In the two years or so that I have been writing this column, I have never been this happy to write my opinion. It was a Trojan evening in almost every conceivable way To say the University of Southern California beat the University of Notre Dame in a football game simply does not do the situation justice. No sir, SC did not just beat the Irish, they dominated them and absolutely demolished the number 7 team in the United States. To add frosting to this ever so sweet cake, I would be remiss not to mention that the Trojans did this after beating the UCLA Bruins is a similarly demoralizing manner last week. For the first time since the 1978 season, USC beat their two arch rivals on consecutive Saturdays . Folks, it simply does not get any better than that for an SC fan, unless of course we follow this great feat with a victory in the Rose Bowl.
When USC beats the Irish as they did tonight, it is difficult to know where to start. I have chosen to start with the offense since it was clicking on all cylinders on this November 30th evening. USC amassed 610 yards against the previous might defense that Notre Dame brought ot the game. Through the air, and on the ground, the Irish D was simply outclassed and outgunned. USC gained an amazing 425 yards through the air and their balanced offense also produced 185 rushing yards. The Irish have never given up so many yards through the air to any prior opponent; enough said. It might sound like gloating, but I tried to warn the many Irish internet fans who came onto our boards and tried to tell the SC faithful over and over how their guys were too tough and how we, the Trojans had not faced a Defense anything like this Irish unit.
Well, guess what! It was the Notre Dame faithful that were in for the surprise. This tough group of defensive backs were no match for Carson Palmer and for the unit that I feel is equal to or superior to any other receiving corps in America. Not only did Mike BMW Williams catch 10 balls for 169 yards, but Kareem and Keary Colbert also played lights out games. As has become almost the norm, Colbert once again made an incredible acrobatic catch while leaving the dbs gazing in amazement. To add insult to injury, oft maligned receiver Grant Mattos finally lived up to his billing from last year and had a career night. And of course, Alex Holmes was also tremendous. Folks, the Irish had no chance against this SC Offense other than to keep Carson on his back. The Oline did the job, Carson had time and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were handed a sound and overwhelming beating.
I think a special note should also go out to a few guys who performed very well and came through in a big way. Senior Derek Graf played a significant amount of time and he got the job done. Since Carson was only sacked once, nobody can accurately say otherwise. Then there is Eric Torres. The guy has played four positions on the Oline and his talent and versatility have been invaluable. Kudos to Norm Katnik. Most fans are aware how devastating the "high ankle sprains can be" , yet Norm was in there for many plays after suffering that dreaded injury just last week. I also noted that Gregg Guenther was not in there, but his replacement Domique Byrd seemed to more than hold his own and that does not bode well for SC's future opponents.
As well as the dominating USC offense played, how does one describe the monumental effort given by the USC Defense. The Irish fans once again kept telling us about their D and how our D was not even in the same league---WRONG!!! This tremendous Defense held the Fight Irish offense to 13 points and without an offensive touchdown. ND managed all of 4 first downs, two of which came very late in the game. For the entire game Notre Dame gained only 109 yards and they simply were unable to move the ball against the most ferocious defense that they faced all year. Folks, the Irish and their fans seemingly underestimate the USC Defense all the while promoting their D as being the better of the two units. Once again, USC put a lid on an opponent's vaunted running game. Nobody from Notre Dame came even close to gaining 100 yards. In fact only their quarterback made anything resembling an excellent run.
One should not forget to mention the lights out game played by our defensive backs. Darrell Rideaux got one pick and caused another. The Irish receivers were blanketed for most of the night and it was lots of fun watching these guys in action. Special note is made of a couple of other points. DeShaun Hill was very effective. He made great tackles and he made a very athletic pick. I also want to recognize the incredibly inspiring and terrific job that Bernard Riley made. Bernard starting this season as a backup while he was still rehabilitating his knee , coming back from that awful ACL repair. I made the mistake on one of the message boards of not singling out Bernard as an unsung hero, but I won't make it again. Bernard thanks so much for the great effort and for the great year. You were there when the team needed you and when you stepped up and filled in for Shaun Cody, SC did not miss a beat and that speaks volumes for your heart and talent.
If there was a downside to this game, it was the less than awe inspiring performance by the special teams , at least in the first, half. First came the missed FG. Then came the fumbled kickoff. And to finish things off , SC had a punt blocked that resulted in a touchdown for the Irish, in fact it was their only TD. However, to their credit, the special teams sucked it up in the second half and played relative mistake free ball. I am not sure why that happened quite that way, but I guess the end justifies the means. SC won the game in a bigtime football war, and boy was it sweet, at least for every Trojan Fan that I know. I guess Carson's two picks were also bad plays, but when somebody throws as often as he does, there will be a couple bad passes . In Carson's defense, he also managed to throw the ball away in a most effective manner on a number occasions; better than I ever remember seeing him master that feat in the past.
Finally, one can't help but mention the coaching. In a word, it was once again superb. To paraphrase a knowledgeable friend of mine, a guy well known on the various message boards, USC attacked. Whether it was on offense or defense, USC attacked and never stopped. It was much to my liking and brought a big smile to my face. Instead of going into that useless prevent D, the SC guys pinned back their ears and Holiday never had a clue what hit him. At the end of the first half, the USC Offense finally brought it bigtime. Chow and SC were not satisfied to go in behind. They opened up things and we scored a great touchdown in less than a minute and a half. Mike Williams made another nice grab and I believe they took the heart right out of the Irish. How SWEETt was THAT?? Once again the SC coaching staff made the necessary adjustments and SC came out and dismantled the Irish in a big way in the second half. Somewhere, there is a guy named Marv Goux, smiling a huge smile about now. For that I am eternally grateful. All Week long I finished posts with the slogan , Go Trojans, Beat the Irish. Well, they did it a most incredible. manner. Right now, USC Football is back where it belongs.