Some quick takes after USC's 45-27 win over Notre Dame.
*** That's exactly the way a good team, a confident program, a maturing team wins a rivalry football game against a team of good athletes like Notre Dame competing hard in difficult conditions. It wins any way it can. We're indebted to the P's trojanfan78 for this tidbit that had it not been for a couple of officiating calls on the bad punt snap for a safety that was negated and the miss on the backward pass that should have been a fumble and a scoop and score for freshman Jack Jones, USC would have scored every way a team can score with a rushing touchdown [Ronald Jones], a passing TD [Sam Darnold to Adoree' Jackson and JuJu Smith-Schuster], a kickoff return TD [Adoree'], a Pick-Six [Ajene Harris], a punt return TD [although had the safety been called, Adoree' doesn't score on that one] and a field goal [Matt Boermeester]. That is how you win football games. You do what you have to do and you have lots of people ready to do it.
*** And as much as you have to be impressed with Notre Dame's players, the size and athleticism of the guys up front and a number of their skill people, something is seriously wrong with Brian Kelly's program. And for the sanctimonious folks in South Bend led by the likes of Missy Conboy, what goes around comes around and it's coming around hard to bite the Irish where it hurts -- in its pride-and-joy football program that has imploded in just 2 1/2 months since it was a consensus Top 10 even to the point of an NCAA slap-down last week.
*** Sam Darnold is growing up. Not his most spectacular game but after the game, all the redshirt freshman could talk about was taking care of the ball in a no-turnover effort for the Trojans. Perfect.
*** For folks worried about USC not hitting in practice, all you had to do was watch kicker Matt Boermeester's flying takedown of ND return man C.J. Sanders as he was about to break clear and the reaction of the entire USC sideline where he did it to know that this team seems to have figured out how to save its hitting for game day.
*** So no Pac-12 Championship Game for USC but you could tell the Trojans took the one and only lesson that can be learned from Utah's loss to Colorado. Do not ever allow your fate to be put in the hands of others as it was when it took a Utah win Saturday night to get USC in. Sure, the Trojans beat both teams in the Pac-12 title game but that means exactly nothing when it comes to figuring out who gets into the game. The two teams with just one loss apiece do, that's who.
*** And sure, a case can be made that USC should still get a Rose Bowl or New Year's Bowl bid out of all this as it edges near or into the Top 10 today in all the polls. But it's not a guarantee. And there's that lesson again. USC's fate is in the hands of a number of folks not wearing the Cardinal and Gold. And that's not what good programs do. Nothing is left to chance. No better lesson can the Trojans players and coaches take from this season.
BY THE NUMBERS
*** 18/8: In Notre Dame's previous six losses, the Irish hadn't lost by more than eight points. USC's 18-point margin surpassed that by 10. The last time Notre Dame lost by a larger margin was two years ago at the Coliseum when USC won 49-14.
*** 23-23: Those are the first down totals for the two teams in an even game from the line of scrimmage not at all like last week when USC had a 21-1 advantage over UCLA in the second and third quarters. Yards were close as well with USC posting a mere 412-408 edge.
*** 72,402: Following the near modern record low crowd for the USC-UCLA game at the Rose Bowl last week was a near record low USC-Notre Dame crowd of 72,402 at the Coliseum Saturday. The previous low came 30 years ago for another below-.500 Irish team in 1986 that drew 70,614.
*** 8 straight: USC's longest win streak since 2008-2009 when the Trojans won 12 in a row. That it's happened after a 1-3 start for the 9-3 Trojans makes it even more amazing.
*** 1,027-29: With his 134 yards rushing, Ronald Jones now has 1,027 for the season becoming the 29th USC player to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark.
*** 8-12: With his two TD passes for an eighth straight multiple-pass-TD game, Sam Darnold has the longest streak since Matt Leinart closed the 2003 season with 12 straight (before another three to open 2004 for a total of 15 in a row).
*** 15 of 20, plus 2: With his 37-yard field goal, Matt Boermeester is now 15 of 20 in field goal attempts this season with two tackles on kickoff coverage, including maybe the best hit of the day for the Trojans.
*** 206, 207: With his four catches against Notre Dame, JuJu Smith-Schuster now has 206 career receptions and is No. 5 on the USC career list, just one behind one of his coaches, Keary Colbert, who has 207 for No. 4.
*** 23-23-2: USC's all-time rain record for games played for much of the time in rain. USC's rain record at the Coliseum is 7-10. USC's rain record against Notre Dame is 3-10. USC's last rain game was in 2014 at Washington State, a 44-17 win. USC's last rain game against Notre Dame was a 2016 loss in 2010.
*** 10-79: Cameron Smith's game-high 10 tackles increased his USC season high to 79.
*** 3:39: The longest game of the season was plagued by all sorts of TV, commercial, injury and replay delays not to mention the time it took to work out the replacement of Referee Ron Cherry with the need to switch the communications equipment that center judge Tom McCreesh took on.
THEY SAID IT
CLAY HELTON: On the transformation of his team: "It was probably the most proud I've been to see this team become a family and become brothers. We were having more fun today than probably we should. Just to see them enjoy the game, play for each other, we've accomplished some things over the last two months . . . What this group and this team has is something special. Over my 21 years, I'll always remember this special group."
NOTRE DAME COACH BRIAN KELLY: "USC is a good team and Clay Helton has done a nice job putting together a good team on offense, defense and special teams that creates problems . . . any time you give up scores to a good offense like USC, you'll pay for your mistakes."
USC'S CHRIS HAWKINS: "There are a lot of ways we can get to the Rose Bowl but we want to determine our own fate and earn our way there."
USC'S JACK JONES: On his scoop and score the officials got wrong originally then overturned the call but no TD for him, just a recovery: "I didn't say anything, I was letting the refs and my coach figure it out . . . no doubt it was a fumble."
USC'S ADOREE' JACKSON : On what he'll take from the Coliseum fans: "How much love they gave through it all. Our season, we've had out ups and downs and they trusted in what's going on and us. I'll remember how loyal these fans are and how much they love us."
Not too bad again with Ced Ware apparently passing his concussion protocol after his targeting hit knocked him out but he's scheduled also for an MRI . . . Other injury also at tailback had Ronald Jones limping during and after the game although he did come back and play . . . Other than that, not a big list here except for ACC referee Cherry who took a helmet full in the face as he was looking one way and USC linebacker Michael Hutchings was tripped up on an all-out pass rush for a sack and had to leave the game to be checked at a hospital and then released.
Not a USCFootball.com member? Sign up now and you'll get a seven day FREE trial! Join the Peristyle Family and get all the great information from USC football practices, Trojan football games, access to the Peristyle and all of the premium recruiting updates on USCFootball.com! Become a member today!