And the Irish gained just 476 yards -- we say just because USC gained 590. It was that kind of game.
"Everything you would expect from these two teams if you like offensive football," ND coach Brian Kelly said, "you certainly had that tonight."
You also had Notre Dame going seven possessions over three quarters and and 36 minutes without an offensive TD -- just that punt block and a field goal.
So why is this USC defense getting hammered? Simply this. On the two back-to-back crunch time series, one at the end of the third quarter and the other starting with 9:06 left in the game, Notre Dame took the ball over 90 and 91 yards away from the USC end zone after excellent Kris Albarado punts.
Sixteen plays later, in a mere 6:15 over two drives, Notre Dame had gone from trailing 31-24 to leading 38-31. A final field goal finished this one off for the Trojans.
"They were really good at flipping the field," Su'a Cravens said. Just when you thought you had the Irish up against their own goal line, they ran right over and through the USC front seven.
"We're jumping in and out of gaps and not tackling," Su'a said. "It's not executing . . . we couldn't stop their inside run game."
"At the end of the day, they did a great job winning their one-on-one matchups," in all phases of the game, Clay Helton said. But for once, a late game collapse wasn't the cause. "I don't think it was fatigue," he said, "they had 60 total plays. We've just got some corrections to fix before we go play a good Utah team."
The chief culprit was converted wide receiver C.J. Prosise, a 6-0 1/2, 220-pound senior who ran through and over and away from most of the Trojans trying to tackle him, gaining 146 yards on 19 carries while losing just three, averaging 7.5 yards a carry.
"I think the two 90-yard drives were big plays for us," Kelly said in as understated a way as he could say it. They were more than big plays. They were the game. USC had no answer -- again -- with the game on the line and the defense on the field in the late stages.
Looked like Darreus Rogers re-tweaked his hamstring in the first half and Juju Smith-Schuster was limping obviously as he walked up the ramp after the game. Haven't heard of any other injuries although it was a physical game with lots of bumps and bruises to get over with Utah coming in this week.
BY THE NUMBERS
83-75-65-42Career-long pass receptions for Adoree' Jackson (83 yards) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (75), career-long run for Ronald Jones II (65) and field goal for Alex Wood (42).
6-6Trojans have received the kickoff to open every single game this season.
19-20USC has scored in the first quarter in 19 of the past 20 games in cluding Saturday.
500-300-4For the fourth time this season, USC had more than 500 total yards of offense and more than 300 total yards passing.
676-688-4With his 30 completions Saturday, Cody Kessler has 688 career pass completions to pass Rob Johnson's 676 for the No. 4 spot on USC's career passing totals list.
30-10-2002For the 10th time since 2002, USC scored 30 or more points against Notre Dame. Prior to 2002, USC had gone 15 straight games against Notre Dame without scoring 30 points.USC.
Coming up all 7'sUSC averaged 7.7 yards a play on 77 plays against Notre Dame. The Irish averaged 7.9 but on just 60 plays.
105-110USC had almost as many penalty yards (105 on 10 penalties in just three quarters) as it did punt yards (110 on four). Neither one is a number to be proud of although there was a purpose on a couple of the short punts in ND territory.
11-5-5Team-leading tackle totals for three USC freshmen -- Cameron Smith (11), Iman Marshall (5) and Osa Masina (5). Only upperclassman in USC's top four tacklers was Su'a Cravens with 10.
CODY KESSLER on the Notre Dame game: "We'll be better for this."
CLAY HELTON on the difference in the game: "At the end of the day, I thought the difference was when you have two turnovers in the fourth quarter, which you can't have. We get a blocked kick for a touchdown and miss a field goal. That's a 10-point differential. You take away the blocked kick for a touchdown, you take away the missed field goal before the half, the game could be different."
ND COACH BRIAN KELLY on USC's big offensive plays: "You know we missed -- look, that is as talented -- those three kids that had the big plays -- Jones, JuJu, Adoree' Jackson -- if youmiss a tackle, thse kids are gone. They make you pay dearly, and we missed some tackles. We had them in our sights a couple of times. Now I think the screen to Adoree' was well executed. They caught us in a blitz. We kind of tipped it, gave it away and theychecked in from the sidelines. I thought that was well-executed on their part. But the other two plays, we are in position. Isaac Rochell has the back wrapped up in the backfield and we miss the tackle. Missed a couple of tackles. And they are extremely talented and make you pay if you don't take them down."
HELTON on what now for his 3-3 team: "I told them with every fiber of my being, every fiber, that I truly believe this is a good football team that can be great. But we have to eliminate the mistakes. There's no reason we can't go win the Pac-12 South. We play a great Utah team this week. We have to make those corrections, all right, before we get there."
ND'S JOE SHMIDT as the former walkon from Mater Dei talks about the win: "This is the game I imagined since I was five playing catch with Dad in the front yard, the lights are on, it's a night time game. You imagined what the crowd looked like, what the little cardinal and gold helmets looked like, and it's even better in person than it was in the dream. To get a victory like this over an incredibly talented USC team with so much firepower and so many reasons to fight right now, it feels so good to come out with a victory. It might not have been the cleanest, it might not have been the prettiest, but dang, we were gritty and passionate and played with love for each other. I'm proud of this team."
SU'A CRAVENS: On the most important thing Clay Helton said to them after the game: "That he was proud to be our coach . . . that was the best thing he could have said."
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