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October 12, 2005

Quinn to lead Irish attack against No. 1 USC

Notre Dame junior quarterback Brady Quinn doesn't get the publicity that Southern Cal's Matt Leinart enjoys.

That's because Quinn doesn't have the Hollywood gal pals, the multi-million dollar insurance policy, or the nation's most potent offense.

Come to think of it, Notre Dame's signal-caller doesn't have two national championship rings or a Heisman Trophy, either. But the hype surrounding Quinn has been slowly snowballing this season, and it could explode on Saturday should the Fighting Irish's main man pull off the improbable and knock off No. 1 USC.

Quinn was less than spectacular against USC last season, passing for only 105 yards and one touchdown. But the Notre Dame offense, which ranks ninth in the nation with 504.2 yards per game, has been one of the big surprises of 2005. Quinn has been more efficient, more effective and all-around more prolific under new head coach Charlie Weis.

Notre Dame senior offensive lineman Dan Santucci says that Quinn has learned to take control of his offense.

"I think Brady is a lot more focused," Santucci said. "He just understands this offense so well. He's the type of guy that does everything for football. He watches tons of film. He just took this offense into his hands.

"He knows he's the leader. He goes out there every day and performs like it."

Junior defensive back Tom Zbikowski, for one, isn't surprised by his quarterback's success.

"I've always seen it," Zbikowski said. "When I came here as a freshman with him, we always saw it in him. Everyone else is getting a chance to see it this year. That's the biggest thing."

Going strictly by the numbers, Quinn is keeping stride with USC's Hollywood gun-slinger thus far this season. Leinart has passed for only 25 more yards than Quinn and one fewer touchdown. Both quarterbacks have thrown three interceptions. In fact, Quinn is on pace to throw for several hundred more yards than Leinart did in last season's Heisman run.

Quinn has been red hot as of late, averaging a remarkable 418 passing yards, three touchdowns and less than one interception per game over Notre Dame's last three contests.

The Fighting Irish are 3-0 against ranked teams this season. Notre Dame's only loss came against another of the most potent offenses in the nation Michigan State.

For the record, last season USC's Leinart had one of the biggest individual performances by a USC player against Notre Dame in the series' storied history. Leinart completed 24-of-34 passes for 400 yards and five touchdowns in last season's 41-10 victory.

As far as other notable individual performances in the series' history, Rivals.com asked Notre Dame sports information director John Heisler and USC sports information director Tim Tessalone for their top five. Here's what they told us:

Year Irish Player Performance
1970 Joe Theismann Passes for all-time school record 526 yards in a loss in the rain
1986 Tim Brown / Steve Beuerlein Brown totals 252 all-purpose yards and Beuerlein passes for 4 TDs
1955 Jim Morse Catches five passes for 208 yards, sets NCAA record for yds/rec
1947 Bob Livingstone Breaks away for 92-yard TD run, still the longest in ND history
1973 Erick Penick 85-yd TD run helps Irish win 23-14 and go on to win national title
Year Trojans Player Performance
1972-74 Anthony Davis Racks up 11 TDs in three games (6 in '72 and 4 in '74)
2002 Carson Palmer 32-of-46 passing, 425 yards and four touchdowns
1979 Charles White Piles up 261 rushing yards and four touchdowns
2004 Matt Leinart 24-of-34 passing, 400 yards and five touchdowns
1989 John Jackson 14 receptions, 200 yards and one touchdown



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