The Obvious and Not So Obvious

Nobody was more impressed with the Trojans than Irish players. Defensive tackle Cedric Hilliard after the game said, "They play a fast game. It's like they strike you. They have big-play receivers and all of a sudden they just throw a long ball, and they'll be in the end zone."

The Obvious - "Outlined against a blue, gray November sky, the Four Horsemen rose again. In dramatic lore they are known as famine, pestilence, destruction, and death. These are only aliases. Their real names are Palmer, Williams, Fargas, and Polamalu. They formed the crest of the Los Angeles cyclone before which another fighting Notre Dame football team was swept over the precipice at the Coliseum on Saturday evening as 91,432 spectators peered down the bewildering panorama spread on the green plain below.

A cyclone can't be snared. It may be surrounded, but somewhere it breaks through to keep going. When the cyclone starts from Los Angeles, where the candle lights still gleam through the Southern California palms, those in the way must take to storm cellars at top speed. Saturday the cyclone struck again, as the University of Southern California crushed Notre Dame 44-13, with a set of Trojans that ripped and crashed through a strong Notre Dame team with more speed and power than the Irishmen could meet."

The Not So Obvious - There are many plaques that adorn the peristyle end of the Coliseum. Two of those plaques are of Notre Dame head coaching legends Knute Rockne and Frank Leahy, but the one that seems to be smiling to today is the one of USC's John McKay, and that rainbow before the game just might have been Marv Goux's smile that everything was going to be okay.

The Obvious - The Trojan looked tense and somewhat apprehensive as they walked from the team bus through the crowded and vocal "Trojan Tunnel". They looked like a team ready for a shakey start, and the first quarter certainly began that way.

The Not So Obvious - As the Trojans were eventually turning Notre Dame into Neuter Dame with an offensive onslaught and defensive Berlin Wall, the irony to the game is all the Trojans' warts displayed earlier in the season in loses at Kansas State and Washington State reappeared with poor special teams play and fumbles. Still, this Trojan team has advanced so far, that the Irish were still demolished by the hottest team in America outside of Miami.

The Obvious - If you bought a game ticket over the counter, the cost of admission for the USC/Notre Dame game was a base $55.00.

The Not So Obvious - If you wanted to sit at midfield for Saturday's highly anticipated game, scalpers were asking for $300.00 per ducat.

The Obvious - The Trojans big win over the Irish was their first over Notre Dame since a 10-0 upset of ninth-ranked Notre Dame on Nov. 28, 1998.

The Not So Obvious - USC recorded its first win over a top-seven opponent since a 41-32 win over Northwestern in the 1996 Rose Bowl. It was also USC's first regular season win over a top-seven foe since a 21-10 win over Penn St. in 1991.

The Obvious - Most would agree the turning point of the game was the 75-yard drive ending with a Carson Palmer to Mike Williams 19-yard touchdown pass with five seconds remaining in the first half.

The Not So Obvious - The amazing part of the play was the Irish secondary was shading towards the middle of the field in anticipation of the deadly pass pattern . It looked like Palmer might change the call and have Williams run a corner route in the end zone, but Williams put on a stunning outside fake on the Irish corner and that was all she wrote.

The Obvious - In a surprise move, senior Sultan McCullough started the game in place of senior Justin Fargas at tailback. McCullough finished the game with 44 yards including a 11-yard touchdown sprint off right tackle.

The Not So Obvious - Once again, the hole was opened by freshman tackle Winston Justice, who took out the Irish left side. Justice has more than lived up to the hype as all night he helped hold the vaunted Irish defensive rush off Palmer.

The Obvious - Prior to the game, the Trojans' team bus arrived at 2:45 at Figueroa Blvd., and the team paced through the "Trojan Walk" spirit tunnel of four-deep fans on each side.

The Not So Obvous - Pete Carroll led the way with high-fives for fans on both sides of the "tunnel", and the head coach was closely followed by national recruit Chris Leak, perhaps the country's top quarterback prospect out of Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Obvious - The Trojans rolled the dice in their recruiting efforts by inviting a "Whos-Who" of national recruits that walked through the spirit tunnel with the team prior to the game.

The Not So Obvious - Other blue chip recruits seen in the spirit tunnel were giant St. Paul, Minnesota tackle Ryan Harris, who looked every bit 6-5, 275, who is also considering Notre Dame.

The Obvious - The Trojans are a taking big looks into the Midwest for talent, since they now have former Wisconsin coach Tim Davis on their coaching staff.

The Not So Obvious -Following Leak in the single file line spirit tunnel was Saginaw, Michigan' linebacker LaMarr Woodley, one of the nation's top five seniors, who was camcording the experience as Trojan fans were yelling in unison "Beat the Irish," and the Martin Luther King High School band played a flawless "Fight On" and "Conquest".

The Obvious - The Trojans ' offense was on fire by rolling up an astounding 610 yards in total offense, while ABC televised the Trojans' definite return to elite status. The Irish came into the game with the nation's fifth-ranked defense and was completely blown away.

The Not So Obvious - Nobody was more impressed with the Trojans than Irish players. Defensive tackle Cedric Hilliard after the game said, "They play a fast game. It's like they strike you. They have big-play receivers and all of a sudden they just throw a long ball, and they'll be in the end zone (refering to the 67 seconds that went 75 yards for the Trojans' score late to end the half)."

The Obvious - Trojan quarterback Carson Palmer threw for 390 yards of his game-high 425 yards in the first three quarters and finished with four touchdowns.

The Not So Obvious - Palmer impressed Irish defensive coordinator Kent Baer who said later, "He is much more consistant. Understands where to put the ball versus coverages. Great three-step throwing. Tremendous arm. He can throw deep better than anybody we've seen this year, and he's got a great touch underneath. He does it all. He's so much improved."

The Obvious - The Trojans figure to rise as high as the 5th best team in the country when all the polls are out. The key poll, of course, will be the BCS poll which creates all the bowl mess.

The Not So Obvious - Irish defensive coordinator Baer, who must have felt that Norm Chow was in his headsets during the game, gave his evaluation of the Trojans afterwards by saying, "They are an awfully good football team. We didn't play very well, that is obvious. For whatever reason, we didn't start very fast. I take that upon myself. Sometimes that happens. I think we had some miscommunication."

The Obvious - Before the game, Irish stellar linebacker Courtney Watson said, "You have some people saying we're not going to be able to score. Some people say that they (USC) are going to put up 50. It's fun to sit back and listen to all that stuff now."

The Not So Obvious - One of the Irish players on defense that more than made his presence felt was physical linebacker Courtney Watson, who more than once punished Trojan ballcarriers. Said Watson afterwards, " He (Palmer) picked us apart as a defense. We weren't able to slow him down. Look at the scoreboard, and that's what happened."

The Obvious - It is always interesting to review what the "experts" said before Saturday's game to see if they were right in picking a big Trojan's victory.

The Not So Obvious - Before the game, Fox commentator and former USC linebacker and recruiting coordinator Artie Gigiantino prognosticated, "I think SC is going to kill'em. I say that intellectually. I don't believe, Notre Dame pass defense wise, has seen guys throw the ball like USC is going to throw it. USC will win this game handily. I'm not talking 45-7, but I think you're looking at 35-17."

The Obvious - Kareem Kelly continued his consecutive catching steak by adding three more receptions, and both running backs, Justin Fargas and Mal MacKenzie, combined for 71 yards from Palmer.

The Not So Obvious - However, the best receiving done outside of Williams was the spectacular catches by Keary Colbert. Although he did not score, the former Oxnard Hueneme flash had five catches for 75 yards, some of which were in the NFL category.

The Obvious - The Trojans' offensive line was outstanding for the most part carving out 185 yards on the ground and allowing Tailback U. and the nation to relive past USC glory.

The Not So Obvious - Senior center Derek Graf started the game and later alternated throughout the contest with Norm Katnick. Both do a fine job and the Trojan offensive line showed a lot of manly hair in battling the Irish front.

The Obvious - Trojan commit Lawrence Jackson, the super defensive lineman from Inglewood, was seen all smiles walking near the peristyle end of the Coliseum before the game.

The Not So Obvious - Jackson definitely is 6-5 and appears to be around the 245 pound range. This is a kid that will go 280 by the time his Trojan day are over. Big upside to his frame.

The Obvious - The Trojan defense completely shut down Tyrone Willingham's offense giving up just 109 total yards and an incredible four first downs.

The Not So Obvious - The Trojan secondary, the biggest surprise and improvement of this season, was everywhere, especially when Holiday tried to go down field. Former Poly stars DeShaun Hill and Darrell Rideaux teamed up for a nice tip-drill interception.

The Obvious - Freshman running back Hershel Dennis from Long Beach Poly fumbled an early Irish kick-off and did not see the field till much later in the game.

The Not So Obvious - Dennis did return for garbage time with three carries for 19 yards.

The Obvious - Trojan coach Pete Carroll was so overtaken with emotion at the post-game press conference that he broke down for a moment in answering what the game meant to him and the Trojans.

The Not So Obvious - Before the game, athletic director Mike Garrett said of Carroll, "I can't say enough nice things about Pete Carroll. I knew he'd be a winner when I hired him, and that's what he has turned out to be. I think he can be another McKay here." For the record, both Carroll and McKay are Irish.

The Obvious - When the Trojans came off the bus pror to the game, they had a very nervous, uptight look on their faces, kind of the deer in the headlights look. Judging by the beginning mistakes and turnovers, the team appeared and performed tense.

The Not So Obvious - If anybody looked tense and nervous, it was Traveler, the famed USC horse. Prior to the game, Traveler acted like he wanted a piece of Notre Dame and became unruly on the sidelines. Due to his actions, the horse never returned to game for touchdown celebrations and Conquest. Could it be he was annoyed having an Irishman, Jack O'Donnell as his rider?

The Obvious - One Southern California player returning to the for the game was former Mater Dei star Mike McNair, who had one carry for five yards in the first quarter, his first carry in the Coliseum.

The Not So Obvious - Poor Mike. With his big returning moment at hand, Coliseum public address announcer Dennis Packer refered to McNair as fullback Tom Lopienski. Realizing he had made an error, Packer changed his call to Shane Walton, confusing his No. 42 with McNair's 47.

The Obvious - The Irish had a fine crowd on hand, and they wore the famous "Shirt", a 13-year campus tradition which is sold each year by the student activities and government, which provides scholarship funds.

The Not So Obvious - As the score mounted, Irish fans began leaving early in the final quarter to another Trojan rendition of "Hey, hey....goodbye".

The Obvious - Prior to the game, there was a story about how a number of Notre Dame people did not like the Trojan band's constant playing. During ND practices prior to coming out to Los Angeles, coach Baer said, "I hate that song", while linebacker Mike Goolsby had a different take. Said Goolsby, "I kind of like it, and I am not going to lie to you."

The Not So Obvious - While Baer probably couldn't get "That song" out of his head on the long lfight back to South Bend, Goolsby had plenty of moments to hear the famed Trojan band, as the tough backer did have time to wreck a Trojan drive when he intercepted a Palmer pass in the end zone to stamie a USC drive.

The Obvious - As mentioned above, the game ticket was priced at $55.00.

The Not So Obvious - The parking sharks across the street from the Coliseum were charging $60.00. My, my, parking now costs more than a game ticket.

The Obvious - Recruit commit Drean Rucker was seen at the game along with Corona's Jonathon Turner.

The Not So Obvious - One recruit that apparently has changed his mind towards the Trojans is Chino defensive lineman Sedric Ellis. Ellis was said to be leaning to Miami, but he now has an eye on the Trojans. A coach from a respected program whose team has played Chino remarked, "He is the real deal. A man among boys. Very physical and fast."

The Obvious - The Trojans' basketball team foreshadowed a USC rout over the Irish by trouncing Morris Brown 93-54 earlier in the afternoon at the Sports Arena before 3,252 fans.

The Not So Obvious - If the Trojans' basketball public address announcer's voice sounded like football radio play-by-play voice Pete Arbogast it was. How do you do?

The Obvious - One of the Trojans' trick plays turned out to be the old tackle eligible to left tackle Jacob Rogers.

The Not So Obvous - Although the play didn't go for much, it reminded Trojan fans that Rogers came to USC as a tight end out of Oxnard High School.

The Obvious - The Trojans' post-game radio show wa quite a love feast with excitment gushing from Pete Arbogast and Paul McDonald, who lamented to coach Carroll that Palmer had now broken all his passing records.

The Not So Obvious - On the call-in talk show after the regular post-game show on 1540, host Mark Carrier, former All-American safety, couldn't contain himself over the Trojans' victory and blurted out over the air, "That was an ass whipping!"

The Obvious - One Trojan defender who has really picked up the slack for the injuried Shaun Cody is Bernard Riley. Riley constantly plugged up the inside with his 320-pound bulk.

The Not So Obvious - Rounding into form after a serious ACL injury, the former Los Alamitos star was very active against the ND offensive line and helped free fellow Griffin Mike Patterson and Omar Nazel for some needed pressure on Irish quarterback Carlyle Holiday, who threw for a paultry 70 yards.

The Obvious - Notre Dame quarterback was extremely confused by the constant blitzing of Matt Grootegoed and Troy Polamalu. Polamalu, playing his last game in the Coliseum said afterwards, "This game was a statement to Notre Dame. Whatever happens with the BCS is out of our hands. I think we proved what we had to prove."

The Not So Obvious - Certainly Polamalu made his statement.The All-America senior was in almost every spot a defender can be placed. There were times that Polamalu was in three different spots before the ball was snapped. Troy finished the game with five tackles, including a sack, forced a fumble, and kept the Irish going crazy. Arnez Battle, the dangerous receiving threat for the Irish, dropped a pass wide open because of the " Polamalu Factor".

The Obvious - Many of the Trojan players knew this was a defining moment for the return of the program to greatness. Many of the Irish players knew that this was the beginning of a long flight home for damage control.

The Not So Obvious - Said Irish coach Willingham, "We faced a good football team, that today took it to us. We weren't able to stay with the pace they set for us." Tackle Jordon Black took even more personal. Black said, "After the way we played, we don't deserve to go to the Orange Bowl. I want to go home and throw up."

The Obvious - So the Trojans end there season at 10-2, currently are tops in the Pac-10, and nearly all agree the Trojans have returning to the top of the mountain.

The Not So Obvious - Just where USC is headed in terms of BCS, bowl destinations, and recruiting impact is still to be answered. One thing is very sure, all final destinations appear to be a return to glory. It's about time, the long wait is over. Top Stories