USC and Notre Dame was anything but pretty, but somebody had to win. On this night in South Bend, it was Notre Dame finding a way to the end of a 14-10 victory.
Notre Dame took a 14-10 lead in to halftime, with Tommy Rees tossing two touchdowns in the first half for the Irish. USC’s Cody Kessler passed for 201 yards but no touchdowns and was intercepted once. The defenses took control in the second half, with both teams pitched a shutout after the break.
USC cost themselves 95 yards due to 11 penalties in the game. The Trojans have ben prone to penalties this season, entering the night averaging 7.2 penalties per game (99th most in the country). The offense failed to get any jump out of the gate the way they did a week ago when Ed Orgeron made his head-coaching debut with the Trojans as the interim head coach.
The Trojans lost their star receiver, Marqise Lee, in the first half. He did not return to the game after appearing to hurt left knee, which was already sore heading in to the game. On USC’s final play on offense, Nelson Agholor also took a shot that could be a concern, although he walked off under his own power after being tended to by the medical staff on the field. Agholor took a shot to the back or ribs while leaping to make a catch on fourth down.
Notre Dame’s defense continues to play well, and that should continue moving forward this season. The Irish completed an undefeated season last year largely on the strength of their defense. That is once again the strength this year. It may not be as good last year, but it is good enough to give the offense enough of a chance to win some football games.
USC will look to get back in the win column next week with a home game in conference play. USC hosts Utah next week before hitting the road for two games against Oregon State and California.
Notre Dame will hit the road with a road game at Air Force next week. The following week Notre Dame hosts Navy. At 5-2, the Irish still have a path to a potential BCS berth but it appears to be a slim shot at best. Notre Dame must win out to get to 10-2, but the only ranked team remaining on the schedule is Stanford in the finale. It may be too late for Notre Dame to catch up to the BCS party, but if we see more weeks like this weekend and last, there could be a number of upsets to help them out.
Illinois has extended year-long interim head coach Bill Cubit for another two seasons, the program announced Saturday afternoon. Does that make him a short-term full-time head coach or a long-term interim coach? Or a combination of the two?
Either way, Cubit is in Champaign to stay through the 2017 season.
A mitigating factor here, undoubtedly, is the absence of a full-time chancellor and a full-time athletics director.
“Bill has stepped in during an extremely difficult period and done an outstanding job in leading our football program since August,” interim athletics director Paul Kowalczyk said in a statement. “Our student-athletes have responded in a positive manner and we feel he is the best person at this time to be the head coach. We wanted to allow Bill to make decisions regarding the program as the head coach without the interim title, and lead the Fighting Illini into Saturday’s game without speculation.”
Cubit’s extended contract will pay him $1.2 million annually. Former Illini head coach Tim Beckman made a reported $1.8 million.
“During the past three months, Coach Cubit has led this team with a steady and experienced hand,” interim chancellor Barbara Wilson said. “He has earned respect and appreciation from all of us. This move will allow the permanent Athletics Director to evaluate the program at his or her own schedule and make decisions based on those evaluations once that search is completed.”
Illinois is 5-6 this season, playing to extend its season at home against No. 16 Northwestern (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU).
Confirming what was reported earlier this week, Tulane announced Saturday morning it had relieved head coach Curtis Johnson of duties.
Johnson closed his four-year tenure with a 45-34 loss to Tulsa Friday night, a game where the Green Wave led midway though the fourth quarter but were undone by two pick-sixes. He closes his run with a 15-34 record, peaking with a 7-6 mark and a New Orleans Bowl appearance in 2013 but winning only eight games in his other three seasons.
“I want to thank CJ for his hard work and his dedication to rebuilding the Green Wave football program,” Tulane AD Rick Dickson said in a statement. “His efforts were rewarded in 2013 when Tulane reached its first bowl in 11 years. Since then, however, the program has not progressed to the level that we aspire to.”
Similar to Illinois, Central Florida and possibly Rutgers, Tulane says it will find a replacement for Dickson (who originally said he’d step down mid-2016) before finding a new head coach.
Many assume Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood won’t survive this disappointing and scandal-ridden fourth season of his. But it could be his boss, the highly controversial Julie Hermann, that receives the ax first.
According to a report from Keith Sargeant of NJ.com, Hermann could see her 30-month tenure end as soon as this weekend.
“Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann is expected to meet with university President Robert Barchi before the end of the weekend, three people familiar with the situation told NJ Advance Media on Friday,” Sargeant wrote. “The meeting, presumably called by Barchi, is the first evidence the university’s administration is preparing to act.”
Sargeant writes that Hermann has been kept in the dark while the university conducts a top-to-bottom investigation into the football program’s compliance efforts. Flood was suspended three games and fined $50,000 earlier this season for overriding the church-state relationship between football and academics.
The results of that investigation could find Rutgers joining the ranks of Illinois and Central Florida among schools looking to hire an AD and head football coach at the same time.
“The futures of Flood and Hermann could hang on a report being compiled by the university’s office of enterprise risk management, ethics and compliance,” wrote Sargeant. “The report is expected to detail allegations of failed drug tests and other issues that could result in NCAA infractions and possible sanctions, multiple people familiar with the situation have told NJ Advance Media.”
In addition to a losing season on the field, Rutgers football has dealt with drug suspensions and player arrests off the field this fall.
A 40-23 loss to Boise State Friday condemned San Jose State to a third straight bowl-less season, but Spartans AD Gene Bleymaier said afterwards the setback would not result in a change in job status for head coach Ron Caragher.
“There’s no question about his status,” Bleymaier told the Contra Costa Times. “Ron’s our coach, and he’ll be our coach going forward.”
Hired away from San Diego to replace the departed Mike MacIntyre, Caragher is just 14-22 in three seasons leading the Spartans.
San Jose State did go 6-6 in his debut season of 2013 but did not garner a bowl invite.