Beat the Irish

The Irish learned on Saturday what the rest of Pac-10 discovered earlier this season, the sleeping giant known as USC is now wide awake and coming to a stadium near you. A message was also sent to the rest of the country that if you want to play the Trojans you'd better strap on your helmet a little tighter and buckle up that chinstrap one more notch because the Trojans will be ready to go.

It was supposed to be another classic chapter in the renewal of a great rivalry but instead the USC Trojans thoroughly dominated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on the way to a convincing 44-13 victory in front of 91,432 delirious fans at the Coliseum.  The Trojans did it in typical fashion with a dominating defense and a multi-dimensional offense that left the Domers wandering off the field after the game with dazed looks on their faces.  Carson Palmer led the way for USC once again as the Heisman candidate became the all-time Pac-10 leader in total offense while also setting a new mark for most passing yards ever in a game against Notre Dame, not a bad day at the office for Carson. 

 

Key to the game – Offense and Defense

 

When trying to decide the key to this game it was hard to choose between the suffocating Trojan defense and the explosive Trojan offense.  In the end, there was no way to pick one over the other because both aspects of the USC game plan were executing at such a high level and contributed so mightily to the win.  Where do you even start with the numbers?  Four first downs for the Irish offense, only two in the first three quarters.  No third down conversions.  Notre Dame only had 22 offensive plays in the first half and held the ball for less than 22 minutes in the game.  Meanwhile, the Trojan offense piled up 610 total yards, the most ever against the Irish.  Notre Dame has been playing football a long time, some even call it the most storied program in college history, and nobody, nobody, nobody has ever move the ball up and down the field more against their defense than USC did on Saturday.  Doesn't that statement just speak volumes?  Notre Dame gained 109 offensive yards, that's a yardage differential of over 500 yards for the game, not a stat you see every day in college football.  It was simply complete domination on both sides of the ball and when that happens the results are usually going to be in your favor.

 

Extra Points 

 

Proud of Palmer

The numbers for Carson Palmer were incredible as he went 32 of 46 for 425 yards and four touchdowns.  He did throw two picks but that didn't stop him or even slow him down.  Ironically, those interceptions came after Carson broke the USC record for most consecutive passes thrown without an interception.  Think about that for a moment, if that stat doesn't speak volumes about the growth of CP this year then nothing will.  Have a great time in New York for the Heisman ceremony Carson. 

 

Rabbit Pickers

Darrell Rideaux, DeShaun Hill and Mike Pollard, all former Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits, had interceptions for the Trojans in the game.  Rideaux should've had two but the ball hit him in the facemask and bounced into the waiting arms of Hill.  It was the first interception of his career for Pollard. 

 

Wowed by Williams

Mike Williams is back.  The injuries that slowed the freshman phenom in recent weeks were a non-factor in this game as Williams put on a show with 10 catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns.  The damage could have been worse if not for one dropped pass in the end zone and another potential score just out of his reach.  Mike has set Pac-10 freshman marks for catches, yards and touchdowns while becoming the first USC WR since Keyshawn to pass the 1,000 yard mark. 

 

Senior Moment

 

They have seen the worst of times and now they are seeing the best of times.  For the seniors on this USC Trojan team it must be so gratifying to play in a game like the one we saw on Saturday night.  The atmosphere at the Coliseum was electric with genuine excitement surrounding this team and all that has happened this year.  Gone are the days of Sun Bowl losses and last place finishes in the Pac-10, replaced instead by Top 5 rankings and New Years Day bowls.  It is an amazing testament to the character of these players, not to mention the coaching of Pete Carroll and his staff, to rise from the ashes with hard work and dedication but it should not be surprising.  When many of the seniors were being recruited out of high school it was noticeable that they were winners.  Carson Palmer won back to back CIF titles in football and a state title in basketball.  Darrell Rideaux and Kareem Kelly were CIF title winners in football and state champions in track.  Justin Fargas was also a state track champ, Sultan McCullough was a world-class sprinter and Zach Wilson won two league titles in wrestling.  These were not players accustomed to losing and when they chose USC many of them spoke of the desire to help regain the stature as a top program.  As they found out, the process is sometimes easier said than done but judging by the results from Saturday it's safe to say mission accomplished.  They will leave the USC football program in a better place than when they arrived and that is a tremendous tribute.  They have also conducted themselves well this year, playing with an extreme confidence that never crossed the line into overt arrogance.  They have every right to be confident based upon the results this season but they also seem to be playing with an unbridled joy that suggests the memories of losing are still too fresh and they are simply enjoying the moment.  Trojan fans are enjoying the moment too and you can be certain that the contributions of this senior class will not be forgotten anytime soon.  Thanks for the memories guys. 

 

Notes from the sidelines

 

Grant Mattos provided two key catches down the middle of the field and a big special teams hit….Kudos to Derek Graf for filling in so well at center for the hobbled Norm Katnik.  Norm was able to participate but Graf got the majority of work and stepped right in to do the job……All three running backs deserve special praise. Justin Fargas pounded away for 120 tough rushing yards and also added 41 important receiving yards.   He provided a spark for the slow starting offense with his long run on the opening scoring drive.  Malaefou MacKenzie made a magical move on his first touchdown catch and then followed it up with an equally delightful fingertip catch for his second score.  To see the accomplishments of Mal this season after all he has been through is wonderful.  Sultan McCullough provided a rushing touchdown with a nifty run to help put the game away…..Jacob Rogers showed good hands and cat-like agility on his catch that should have gone for a touchdown.  Maybe next time Jacob can get a decent pass and some blocking, he can't do it all you know.....Omar Nazel provided constant harassment of Holiday and also looked good dropping back into coverage on a few plays…..Keary Colbert made a highlight reel play with his ice-cream cone catch along the sidelines.  The nice thing about Keary is he seems to make at least one of those catches per game…..Kareem Kelly tied the All-Time Trojan mark for career receptions…..Troy Polamalu and Matt Grootegoed were thorns in the side of the Irish offense all night either in the backfield or filling the right hole…..RECRUITING CORNER…..The list of recruits at the game read like a Who's Who of recruiting…..Some of the top names included Chris Leak, Donte Whitner, Darius Hiley, Lamar Woodley, Ryan Harris, Tony Hunt, Ryan Ting, Brandon Ting, Junior Lemau'u, Lawrence Jackson, Matt Malele, Alex Morrow and Drew Radovich…..

 

Final Thoughts

 

When Pete Carroll gathered the team at midfield prior to the start of the game he reminded them of Marv Goux and how Marv wanted them to stay close together and Fight On.  At that moment, thunder roared from the overcast sky and d-line coach Ed Orgeron remarked that Goux was shaking down the thunder for us on this day.  Those who knew Marv have no trouble believing that the old coach was sending a message from above to his beloved Trojans as they prepared to face the Irish.  One last growling pre-game speech from the man who loved this rivalry more than any other.  The Trojans listened and then went out and dismantled the Irish is a way that would cause even Goux to stand and take notice.  The Irish rode in with lots of promise of a rebirth under Tyrone Willingham but they had no answers for the intensity and performance of USC.  We are now seeing what happens when you combine a talented offensive mind like Norm Chow with the amazing skill athletes that can often be found at USC.  It's also fun to watch a defensive mind like Pete Carroll as he simply toys with the opposing offense and eventually has the quarterback with his head on a swivel wondering where the next blitz is coming from.  Our defense is like an animal that stalks its prey, constantly attacking until it slowly drains the life completely out.  We are relentless and smart at the same time.  The Irish learned on Saturday what the rest of Pac-10 discovered earlier this season, the sleeping giant known as USC is now wide awake and coming to a stadium near you.  A message was also sent to the rest of the country that if you want to play the Trojans you'd better strap on your helmet a little tighter and buckle up that chinstrap one more notch because you know the Trojans will be ready to go.  That's the type of football Goux liked to play.  Can you imagine the smile on his face as he watched this game unfold?   Marv Goux must be very proud of the Trojans right now, very proud indeed. 

 


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