Notre Dame will be learning along with USC exactly what the future holds for the Trojans on Saturday. Senior quarterback Matt Barkley is out with a sprained shoulder which means redshirt freshman backup Max Wittek will make his first career start at USC.
Wittek saw time late in the game in the Trojans season opener against Hawaii and then again in their blowout win over Colorado, when he threw his first career touchdown. He had to replace Barkley with under three minutes to play in the Trojans' 38-28 loss to UCLA.
Lane Kiffin compares Wittek to former Trojan quarterback and current Oakland Raider Carson Palmer, saying he is a prototype pro-style quarterback.
Wittek is 8-of-9 this season for 95 yards and a touchdown.
WR #9 Marqise Lee
Because of the Trojans 7-4 record Marqise Lee is arguably the most exciting player in college football no one is talking about. He's a tremendous receiver but his real impact is in the yards he collects after the catch. Against Arizona State the Coliseum watch Lee do the unthinkable and reverse a reverse, almost earning himself a touchdown before being tackle a few yards short of the goal line.
He has been Barkley's top target and USC's biggest playmaker on offense this season.
In the Trojans loss at Arizona, Lee amassed 469 all-purpose yards, following that performance with 408 all-purpose yards in the loss to Oregon.
WR #2 Robert Woods
All-American Robert Woods is the most under-utilized on the Trojans' offense as of late. He broke the USC all-time career receptions record against Colorado, but since then his production has completely fallen off. This looks to be more of a function of Barkley looking for Lee rather than Woods not playing to the same caliber he was at just a season ago.
In the Trojans' win over Arizona State, Woods caught only two passes for -3 yards.
TB #22 Curtis McNeal
With the addition of Penn State transfer Silas Redd, Curtis McNeal has been a bit of an afterthought on USC's offense until the last few weeks since Redd was sidelined then limited due to injury. McNeal quietly put together back-to-back 100-plus yard rushing games against Arizona State and then UCLA. Look for USC to try to establish the run, especially with Wittek under center, and expect it to be on the back of McNeal.
LT #75 Max Tuerk
Left tackle has been the biggest question mark all season for the Trojans' offensive line. Sophomore Aundrey Walker was awarded the starting spot during spring practices but it the job turned into an open competition after USC's third week loss to Stanford. Tuerk, a true freshman, split time with Walker and eventually took over the role. He's now back to splitting time with Walker. This will definitely be the spot on the line that will be crucial to the success of USC's offense against Notre Dame.