The Trojans and the Fighting Irish seem to each other figured out as the third quarter was significantly less eventful than the first half. Though Notre Dame extended their lead, they have yet to reach the endzone since the first quarter, allowing USC plenty of room to climb back in it.
The Trojans did not get the start to the second half that the envisioned when Max Wittek got picked off by the second time on the night, this time by Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o, on USC’s second play.
It did not come back to haunt USC though; Notre Dame couldn’t penetrate deep enough into USC’s red zone, and their kicker missed for the first time on the night.
Both teams traded three-and-outs, with neither offense being able to get any big plays going.
Notre Dame found an advantage late in the quarter and capitalized on a mismatch between USC CB Josh Shaw and TE Tyler Eifert. Shaw slipped and got burned 31 yards, allowing the Fighting Irish to enter the Trojan redzone. The defense got it together, gang tackling Golson on third down and forcing him back a few yards. Notre Dame’s kicker took the field for the fifth time on the night and made another one.
On four consecutive Trojan drives, they were unable to pick up any first downs.
Lane Kiffin continues to baffle with his play-calling; he shows no commitment to the running game, which is the one thing that had been consistent for USC through the first half. Wittek has thrown two picks already but for whatever reason Kiffin has yet to pound it up the gut with more gusto. Not only that, but he also continues to underutilize the tight ends, relying on his same old predictable style that has got the Trojans absolutely no where. For the umpteenth time this season, the Trojans were shutout in the third quarter.
With one quarter left to play, the Trojans are running out of time to pull themselves together and show what they are really made of.