But just like 2005 when Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush made history on their final drive in South Bend, the Trojans came up big in the final seconds once again, keeping the Fighting Irish out of the south end zone and holding on to an exciting 34-27 victory.
"It's an extremely tough loss," said Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen, whose final pass for Duval Kamara fell incomplete in the end zone. "Fighting back at the end, fourth quarter, coming up short, one second to go, it's heartbreaking."
After passing for a career-high 380 yards and two touchdowns in his first rivalry game as a Trojan, freshman quarterback Matt Barkley like the 80,795 fans in attendance, stood in the cold and helplessly watched the final minutes of the game.
"I actually kind of thought of it as, ‘Is Jimmy going to be the next Leinart with that last fourth quarter drive,'" Barkley said. "Knowing how great of a quarterback he is, I still had faith in our defense."
Notre Dame took over the ball at their 22 yard-line with 4:18 on the clock, down by a touchdown.
After seven completions by Jimmy Clausen and two personal fouls by the USC defense, the Irish had the ball at 8 with just 9 seconds left on the clock.
Clausen's next pass was broken up by sixth-year senior Josh Pinkard and the Trojans rushed the field to celebrate their win, but after reviewing the play, the officials put one second back on the clock.
"Whether we had to go back out or not, that just doubled the fun of trying to get it done," the always optimistic Pete Carroll commented.
On the final snap, Clausen dropped back to pass and threw wide of wide receiver Duval Kumara, who slipped on the play.
"Deep down inside I knew that they were going to be able to get the stop," Barkley said.
Cornerback Kevin Thomas added: "It says great things about the game and the rivalry. Our fans and their fans were on the edge of their seats."
While the USC defense came up with the big stop to hold on to the win, it was the play of Barkley and the offense that shined on Saturday.
"I thought it was an extraordinary day for our quarterback," Carroll said. "I love him, the way he plays, battles, competes, the plays he's capable of making."
"Those two guys were making plays, running good routes, making things happen at the right time, making explosive plays that we needed to move the ball," Carroll said.
McCoy had the best game of his career, making a handful of big plays including a 60-yard reception on third-and-1 in the third quarter that lead to a USC touchdown.
"He couldn't get tackled. It took ten guys to bring him down," Barkley said of the play. "He's the ultimate tight end for us. He played great today."
The athletic tight end finished the game with a team-high 5 catches for 153 yards.
Damian Williams has been Barkley's go-to receiver and he had another stellar performance pulling in 4 catches for 108 yards.
The Trojans came through with another thrilling finish in the south end zone of Notre Dame Stadium to extend their winning-streak over Notre Dame to eight games.
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