No. 14 Notre Dame grabbed an early lead, but USC fought back in the second quarter, and the longtime rivals enter the half knotted at 24-24 in South Bend.
USC added a field goal and Notre Dame again responded quickly with a four-play, 75-yard march punctuated by a 25-yard C.J. Prosise run. The lead then expanded to 21-10 at the 5:04 mark of the first quarter when Amir Carlisle returned a blocked punt for another Irish touchdown.
Justin Yoon pushed the lead to 24-10 at the 5:59 mark of the second quarter, but the Trojans, playing their first game under interim head coach Clay Helton, responded furiously from there. Jalen Greene hit JuJu Smith-Schuster on a 75-yard double pass to pull USC within 24-17, and Adoree’ Jackson tied the game with an 83-yard catch-and-dash at the 3:17 mark of the second quarter.
Kizer hit 10-of-14 throws for 150 yards and a touchdown, while Prosise added six carries for 65 yards and a score.
Kessler connected on 16-of-25 passes for 234 yards and a touchdown, and a host of Trojans combined to carry 13 times for 58 yards and a score.
Each team committed a critical mistake, as Notre Dame’s Torii Hunter, Jr., lost a fumble at the USC goal line, and Alex Wood missed a 36-yard field goal just before the half.
The game also started with a bit of drama, as USC athletics director Pat Haden collapsed on the sideline and was taken to the locker room. USC athletics officials insist Haden is fine.
Notre Dame will receive to open the second half.