The greatest intersectional rivalry in college football has been known to propel a few players to the Heisman Trophy ceremony and that might have been the case once again on Saturday afternoon.
All-purpose star Adoree’ Jackson did a little of everything for USC against their bitter rivals Notre Dame and played a big part in the team’s eighth straight win, 45-27.
The junior cornerback dazzled the rain-soaked crowd at the Coliseum in all three phases of the game with a trio touchdowns: the first on a 55 yard punt return just before halftime, adding another on a 52 yard catch-and-score to go with an eye-popping 97 yard kick return. There was little question that Jackson was the best player on the field and the performance may have been enough to earn him an invite to New York for the Heisman ceremony — with a loss by Louisville’s Lamar Jackson earlier in the day opening the door for a number of candidates.
Quarterback Sam Darnold (205 yards, two touchdowns) didn’t need to do much as a result, but the redshirt freshman still looked good in his final home outing of the season. Tailback Ronald Jones topped the century mark on the ground to keep the offense balanced and scored from 51 yards out for the Trojans’ first touchdown of the day.
Notre Dame quarterback Deshone Kizer was under siege by the pass rush all day and managed just 220 yards, two scores and a bad interception that was returned for a touchdown. Josh Adams provided one of the few offensive highlights of the day for the Irish when he picked up 74 yards on a run that set up the team’s first score.
The loss, which was marred by several penalties, turnovers and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, capped an atrocious season for Brian Kelly and Notre Dame as they wrap things up with a 4-8 record. It was a performance in Los Angeles on Saturday that was certainly fitting of the way their year has gone in 2016.
USC, on the other hand, will celebrate their final home outing of the season and head to the locker room to watch Utah play Colorado. If the Utes were to win the game, the Trojans would be crowned Pac-12 South champions and head to the Bay Area to face Washington next week in the conference title game.
If the Buffs win at home, the Trojans would then await their bowl destination and that just might mean a trip across town to the Rose Bowl if things work out in their favor.