They say rivalry games are the hardest type of game to win, and that rang ridiculously true on Saturday night in L.A. for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish as they took on the USC Trojans. The men of Troy gave the Irish everything they had, but Notre Dame was just too much throughout the game, and ended a 12-0 season with a 24-17 win over Southern Cal.
It was ALL USC in the first quarter as they nickel and dimed their way down the field with an accurate J.T. Daniels and an athletic wide receiving group. The Trojans took their opening possession 78 yards for a touchdown, and they set the tone for the game.
Notre Dame quickly found themselves down 10-0 in the second quarter as the offense sputtered and looked completely out of sync. The Irish finally got it together and Ian Book found a target that came to play in Chris Finke. The Irish finally got on the board with 2:20 to go in the half when Book hit Finke on a beautiful 24 yard touchdown pass to the front pylon.
The Irish were able to get a stop against Southern Cal, and got the ball back with a minute left in the half. Book was sacked on the first play, and with 3 timeouts, the Irish never moved with a sense of urgency. As they chunked off a few more plays, Notre Dame made a big mistake by not calling a timeout after a first down. A strike to Miles Boykin had the Irish in SC territory, but out of field goal range with 3 seconds to go. A hail Mary pass found Boykin — but it came up short on the 3 yard line.
Notre Dame made some solid adjustments at halftime and started to slow down the USC offense, while being able to move the ball a little better. The Irish hit paydirt with a 52 yard touchdown run from Dexter Williams to put the Irish up 14-10 early in the third quarter.
The rest of the third quarter saw missed opportunities to blow the game open for the Irish, but they finally added to their lead with a 46 yard field goal from Justin Yoon. Just a few plays prior, the Irish converted on a 4th and 2 — so at least they got some points.
Notre Dame was threatening to make it a 2 score game in the middle of the fourth quarter, but an Ian Book interception in the endzone saw the Irish walk away empty handed after an otherwise very stout drive.
It was finally a gutsy Ian Book on the ground getting first downs — and then a HUGE 51 yard touchdown pass to Tony Jones Jr. out of the backfield to put the Irish up 24-10.
The Irish held on a late rush from USC to win the game 24-17, and punched their virtual ticket for the college football playoff.
We will have MUCH more on OFD on this game and the 12-0 season moving on towards the post season.