"It's there, light and bright," Irish cornerback Bennett Jackson said. "You're going to see it regardless."
The Irish can't ignore that "#1" sign, so they look directly at it. If the stakes don't merit the exact same attention, they are about as manifest, Notre Dame one game away from turning it into manifest destiny.
"You try not to think about it, but in the back of your mind it's there," safety Zeke Motta said. "Like, OK, you win this game, you're going to play in the national championship. What more motivation do you need?
"But we want to treat this like any other game. Obviously it's a rivalry game, so we're going to be playing fierce and tough and we're going to play how we play. After that, it'll be decided. We just focus on who we're playing against and sticking it to them."
The first fall-back for Notre Dame is the pressure it has felt weekly and its success in trying road environments such as East Lansing, Mich., and Norman, Okla. If that fails, conveniently enough, it was another night game against USC and the nuclear-powered hype preceding that offered practice.
A year ago, the Irish had a season-making opportunity against the Trojans. From coaches to players, they concede the run-up caught up to them. They crumbled in a 14-point home loss.
"The biggest thing is, sometimes you can let all the outside hype get you so motivated that you lose focus on the task at hand," center Braxston Cave said.
"You start thinking about the bigger picture and everything that's going on around you. When you go into a game like that, and then you come out with a loss, you realize all that disappears quickly when you're not the winner at the end."
Even with a loss, the disorder of college football doesn't guarantee Notre Dame's BCS title game chances disappear. It only just about guarantees they disappear.
So the Irish have one chance to leave nothing to chance. The path is lit up. And it's impossible to ignore where navigating a Trojan course will take them.
"You use that as a form of motivation, to just give you more energy throughout the game, to keep you more locked in, to help you realize where you can be," Jackson said. "At the end of the day, we have to beat USC to get there. All our eyes are focused in on USC to get to that game."