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.