For USC football fans, there’s nothing like being on top. And for Allan Fine, whose Trojan T-shirt never saw a losing game, there’s nothing better than a win over No. 1 rival Notre Dame. So this week, the Santa Clarita dentist and his son have joined the ranks of a lockstep Trojan army heading off for South Bend, Ind., in hopes of watching their team lick the Fighting Irish. “My dukes are up,” declared Fine, 58, of Valencia, a twice-graduated Trojan who will wear his lucky shirt at Saturday’s game. “Going back to Notre Dame – it’s the Holy Grail of football. This year, more than 10,000 Los Angeles area fans are expected to pack the stands at Notre Dame Stadium for what some call the most storied rivalry in college football. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week For the 77th time, the University of Southern California will butt heads with Notre Dame – the undefeated No. 1 team in the nation vs. the much-improved No. 9 team. On the gridiron, it’ll be a clash between cardinal-and-gold and blue-and-gold – between USC, which has won 27 consecutive games, and Notre Dame, which leads the all-time series 42-29-5. Off the field, USC supercoach Pete Carroll will try to outfox Notre Dame’s Charlie Weis, winner of four Super Bowl rings as an NFL assistant. The USC Trojan mascot will try to outswagger the Notre Dame leprechaun. Two of the most fabled fight songs in football history will come to blows. And 10,000 nacho-nibblers from Southern California will test their mettle against 70,000 bratwurst biters for Notre Dame. The game, to be broadcast on NBC at 12:30 p.m. PDT on Saturday, is expected to be a crisp match under clear skies wedged between two Midwestern downpours. Some even say God could bump the point spread at the historic Catholic campus. “When you sit in the stadium in South Bend and look over the goalpost, you see a picture of Jesus with his hands raised,” said Fine, who celebrated Yom Kippur this week. “They call him ‘Touchdown Jesus.”‘ Like USC fans the world over, Fine is jubilant about USC’s recent dominance. After years in the trenches after the triumphal reigns of coaches John McKay and John Robinson, USC has seized the No. 1 rank for two years running. Such force has only fueled the friendly-but-spirited joust with Notre Dame that, according to legend, began in 1926 with an agreement by athletic directors’ wives to host a warm-weather match in Southern California. USC fans, whose buses sold out weeks ago, will host their legendary tailgate party and pre-game pep rally. The Fighting Irish will host their first outdoor stadium pep rally in years. Game seats, sold out long ago, are being scalped far above face value – with midfield seats commanding up to $3,000 each. “It’s probably close to three times what we paid in ’97,” said Jim Baber, 49, of Cerritos, a USC fan who paid $800 each for two seats on the 15-yard line. “It’s still the greatest football game in the country – better than the UCLA game.” Mark Barnhill, who attended school in the San Fernando Valley when such USC legends as Anthony Davis, Charles White and Kevin Williams sharpened their cleats at San Fernando High School, wouldn’t miss it. For the first time, the longtime Trojan fan and his 15-year-old son will don the cardinal at Notre Dame Stadium. “I have no shame in saying it: Now that they’re on top, I’ve jumped right back on the bandwagon along with everybody,” said Barnhill, a 47-year-old executive who lives in West Hills. “I’ll be wearing the colors.” As will the blue-and-gold. While “Go Trojans!” will erupt behind the USC bench, Fighting Irish fans will bluster, “Raise the roof and feel the thunder!” It was during a famous matchup in 1973 that Notre Dame students rolled a Trojan horse onto the field – a visible rebuke to a Trojan force named for an ancient losing army. “It’s not only a friendly rivalry, but a great rivalry, with two great bands, two great football teams and two great academic institutions,” said Chuck Lennon, executive director of the Notre Dame Alumni Association, who was betting on a Notre Dame upset. And when Notre Dame scores, he said, the green leprechaun “will chase that Trojan horse … Traveler’s not going to walk around our field.” Not if Fine, Class of ’68 and dental school Class of ’72, can help it. He and his 25-year-old son, Adam, will be accompanied by the lucky cardinal T, which for its three-year-life has never witnessed a loss. “It’s all I ever wear,” said Fine, an ardent fan anticipating his third pilgrimage to Notre Dame. “It does the trick. That shirt’s never been defeated. “Whenever that shirt sees a losing game, it’ll be retired.” Dana Bartholomew, (818) 713-3730 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!