The only play that might stand out is the fourth-and-nine completion from Matt Leinart to Dwayne Jarrett for 61 yards down inside the Notre Dame 15 with a little more than a minute to go. Trevor Laws sacked Leinart on second down to force USC into a 3rd-and-20 at their own 15 with 1:44 left in the fourth quarter. A completion to Reggie Bush for 11 yards made it the all-important fourth down. USC had no timeouts left and a stop would have given Notre Dame the upset.
Leinart saw Jarrett had one-one-one coverage with Irish cornerback Ambrose Wooden. The Heisman Trophy winning quarterback checked to his wide receiver to run a "go" route. Weis said after the game Notre Dame played a "2 Tampa" defense and it would have taken a perfect throw to beat the coverage. That's what Leinart coolly and calmly did as he hit Jarrett for 61 yards for a first down.
"It was one-on-one to the outside," Carroll said. "They were one-on-one with Dwayne. We told him before he left the sideline that if you get a chance, do it. It's a risky shot on fourth-and-nine and a high risk. But when you got your best passer throwing to your best catcher, you got do it. If we didn't make it, it would have been the shot we could have taken."
A few plays later, Leinart dove for the end zone on a rollout right but was hit by Notre Dame linebacker Corey Mays. The ball popped out but flew out of bounds. The clock ran down to no time left and some overeager fans stormed the field. With no instant replay in effect for the game because of USC coach Pete Carroll not in favor of the system, it was up to the officials to make the call on the field. The referees put time back on the clock and it allowed Leinart to score the winning touchdown. Weis was not satisfied by how the officials explained the confusing series of events.
"I thought they did a bad job of talking it through," Weis said. "That's what I felt. I'm not blaming the refs for us losing the game. They made this call and then the same official came over and said it's not this or not. There's no replay. Pete didn't want replay. The bottom line is that you don't make excuses for losing."
*The heart break and disappointment was evident in the Notre Dame players after the game. Weis said his team would not accept a moral victory but told his squad to keep their heads up after a commendable performance. Easier said than done.
"We knew it was going to be a close game," tight end Anthony Fasano said. "Whenever you are battling at the end when you had opportunities before, it's never a good thing.
"It was the highest I've ever been and the lowest I've ever been. It's how football is."
Fasano was not the only one feeling a little down after the game.
"This is one of the toughest losses I've ever had," defensive end Victor Abiamiri said. "We come so close and come up short…it takes you down. But we got to bounce back and not have an emotional letdown.
"When the time ran out and the Notre Dame fans ran onto the field, I thought it was game. You guys so what happened. It wasn't.
"Anytime you go into a ball game and you come this close to a good football team, you want to come out on top. They played well. We made a ton of mistakes. We need to improve on them. They cost us the game."
*Darius Walker and Travis Thomas split carries Saturday afternoon against USC. Walker ran 19 times for 72 yards (3.8 average) and Thomas had 52 yards on 18 carries (2.9 average). It was all part of Weis's strategy to shorten the game and keep the Trojan offense off the field. It worked to the tune of controlling the ball for almost 39 minutes to USC's 21 minutes.
"We felt that we needed a slasher runner to compliment Darius's style of running," Weis said. "We game planned him to be in the mix. He knew he was going to be in the mix. It wasn't a surprise deal. He made a bunch of carries in this game because we needed a complimentary halfback runner."
Thomas, though, showed glimpses of what some Irish fans have been waiting for. His 16-yard touchdown in the first quarter tied the game at 7 and he eluded several tacklers with nifty moves on the scoring run. Offensive lineman Bob Morton said they see these types of moves everyday in practice.
"We've seen Travis play for a good long time and it was a matter of time before you guys saw it," Morton said. "He really stepped up and showed the world basically what we've seen for awhile. He's grown every day from football."
*Notre Dame brought out the green jerseys on Saturday versus USC. The green was a darker green than worn three years ago against Boston College and the numbers were solid gold. Weis had been adamant leading up to the Trojan game that the green jerseys would not be brought out. The head coach's favorite game while a student at Notre Dame was the famous "green jersey" game in 1977 against USC when the Irish wore the uniforms en route to a 49-14 victory. The result this weekend was not the same but Weis said after the game that he wanted to reward his team for their efforts preparing for the battle with the Trojans. For the record, this is the fourth straight loss Notre Dame has had while donning the green uniforms. The last win while wearing the green jerseys: 1992 in the Sugar Bowl against Florida.