Last year, the Irish were humbled 38-3 at USC. Two years ago, it was no contest 38-0 USC at Notre Dame. In 2006 the Trojans prevailed 44-24.In 2005, the inaugural season for Charlie Weis at Notre Dame, USC rallied to win on the famous Reggie Bush-Matt Leinert "push" play — which, as the Associated Press and others pointed out, happened in the same end zone as Notre Dame's unsuccessful final drive on Saturday. USC has scored at least 34 every time out against Weis-led teams.
It's likely unfair (or at least unproductive) to speculate. But those of us in the press box couldn't help but wonder how the game might have been different with Notre Dame's MIchael Floyd participating.Floyd remains sidelined with a broken clavicle. USC bottled up tight end Kyle Rudolph (three catches for 9 yards) and contained Golden Tate for much of the day before the speedy receiver broke loose with a series of huge plays down the stretch, finishing with 117 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Robby Parris had a career day with nine catches for 92 yards, among those a near-touchdown 25-yard catch and run on a nifty first-half fake punt. He showed toughness to spare with a clutch catch covering 13 yards on fourth and 10 from the USC 29 with time running out. Two USC defenders leveled him, knocking his helmet off and committing a personal foul for headhunting in the process (free safety Taylor Mays was apparently flagged).
In Weis' postgame press conference, a reporter astutely brought up a third-quarter series that might have faded into the background given the fourth-quarter dramatics.On its first set of downs in the second half, Notre Dame drove to third and 2 from the USC 28, but runs by Armando Allen and James Aldridge failed to gain the first down. "I needed to get three more yards," Weis said when asked about whether a field goal was considered. "That really swung some momentum," he said of the series. "We were really disappointed on that one because we didn't get enough push to get the first down."