Jalen Greene

Associated Press

Utah State all over North Texas in New Mexico Bowl

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Utah State is without head coach Matt Wells and six of his assistant coaches, but quarterback Jordan Love, running back Gerold Bright and the rest of the Aggies players are still in uniform, and that has proven more than enough so far at the New Mexico Bowl. Utah State leads North Texas 38-7 at the half in Albuquerque.

Love completed 13-of-26 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns while Bright carried seven times for 59 yards and a touchdown, allowing the Aggies to roll up 360 yards of total offense in the half.

The Aggies offense started rolling early. On a 3rd-and-7 on the game’s opening possession, Love found Aeren Vaughns for a 72-yard touchdown toss.

After two punts and a North Texas score, Utah State started in UNT territory after a 48-yard kickoff return, and five plays later Bright strolled in untouched for a 26-yard touchdown run.

Most of Utah State’s scores came via explosive plays. Love again found Vaughns, this time from 37 yards out, to put the Aggies up 28-7, and then hit Jalen Greene for an easy 67-yard pitch-and-catch score to push the lead to 35-7 at the 8:55 mark of the second quarter.

While Utah State’s offense did anything and everything it wanted, the UNT offense sputtered without its two most important players. The Mean Green entered the game without leading receiver Rico Bussey (68 catches for 1,017 yards and 12 touchdowns) and played most of the game without quarterback Mason Fine. He was visibly hobbled by a hamstring issue and left the game for good when he could not run after an errant snap — a theme for the Mean Green — sailed over his head.

Senior backup Quinn Shanbour replaced Fine and went 2-of-7 for 24 yards and two interceptions, and he was replaced by freshman Jason Bean, whose second pass was intercepted and returned 31 yards by Utah State’s DJ Williams to the UNT 48-yard line.

That final pick led to yet another Utah State score, a 42-yard Dominik Eberle field goal as time expired in the first half.

Fine did manage to engineer one North Texas scoring drive. Aided by two Utah State personal fouls, the Mean Green moved 78 yards in 10 plays to tie the score at 7-7 at the 2:52 mark of the first quarter.

Barring a miraculous turnaround, that will go down as the highpoint of the day for the Mean Green.

Kizer, Prosise lead No. 14 Notre Dame past USC for shootout win

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The backfield battery of DeShone Kizer and C.J. Prosise isn’t what Brian Kelly had in mind two months ago. In fact, if you told him then what you know now, he’d probably shudder and curse under his breath. But, unbeknownst to him, to you, and probably to Kizer and Prosise themselves, the unlikely duo carried Notre Dame to another win in what’s proving to be a successful season in spite of some tremendous odds.

Kizer, the previously untested freshman, hit 15-of-24 passes for 227 yards (plus 47 rushing yards) and two touchdowns and no interceptions and Prosise, the former wide receiver, continued his hey-don’t-you-forget-me Heisman campaign by rushing 19 times for 143 yards and two more scores to lead No. 14 Notre Dame to a 41-31 win over USC on Saturday night in South Bend.

The game was a back-and-forth affair that was essentially three blowouts rolled into one: Notre Dame jumped out to a 24-10 lead through the six minute mark of the second quarter, followed by USC boasting a 21-0 run through the end of the second quarter and the completion of the third, only to see Notre Dame wrestle back control with a 17-0 fourth quarter.

USC opened the scoring with a three-yard run by Cody Kessler, only to see Notre Dame tie the game one play later on a 75-yard throw from Kizer to Will Fuller. Prosise put Notre Dame on top 14-10 with a 25-yard scoring dash, and Amir Carlisle added to the lead by returning a blocked punt five yards for a touchdown at the 5:04 mark of the first quarter.

Typical of a Notre Dame defense the week after facing Navy, the Irish were susceptible to allowing big plays, and that showed in the second quarter as Jalen Greene nailed JuJu Smith-Schuster on a 75-yard double pass for a touchdown, and Adoree’ Jackson scored from 83 yards out on a pass from Kessler.

Kessler (365 yards on 30-of-46 passing) hit tight end Taylor McNamara for a four-yard score at the 9:40 mark of the third quarter to give USC a 31-24 lead, but Brian VanGorder‘s unit closed the door from there.

Prosise tied the game with a six-yard run 40 seconds into the fourth quarter, and Kizer gave the Irish the lead for good when he found Corey Robinson for a diving touchdown catch with 9:06 remaining.

Justin Yoon put the game away with a 32-yard field goal with 5:39 to play.

USC played its first game under interim head coach Clay Helton following Steve Sarkisian‘s firing on Monday. USC athletics director Pat Haden collapsed on the sideline before the game, but reports indicated he was in good health.

USC outgained Notre Dame 590-476 on the evening.

After losing eight in a row from 2002-09, Notre Dame has now won four of the past six and three of the last four. The Irish hold the all-time lead 46-35-5 in a series that dates back to 1926.

USC (3-3) has now lost two in a row and three of its past four – and returns to Los Angeles to face No. 4 Utah on Saturday. Notre Dame (6-1) kept its Playoff hopes alive for another two weeks; the Irish will take next week off before a suddenly important trip to undefeated Temple on Oct. 31.

 

No. 14 Notre Dame and USC deadlocked after entertaining first half

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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 opened the game with an eight-play, 71-yard drive capped by a three-yard Cody Kessler run, and Notre Dame punched back immediately when DeShone Kizer hit Will Fuller for a 75-yard touchdown pass.

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.