The battle for the jeweled shillelagh ended with Notre Dame holding the trophy for the second straight year as the Irish bested the Trojans 14-10.
Here’s how the box score played out…
|NET YARDS RUSHING||129||129|
|Average Per Rush||4.2||3.2|
|NET YARDS PASSING||201||166|
|Average Per Completion||10.1||11.9|
|TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS||330||295|
|Total offense plays||65||65|
|Average Gain Per Play||5.1||4.5|
|Third-Down Conversions||2 of 13||4 of 14|
|Fourth-Down Conversions||0 of 2||0 of 1|
USC’s offense outperformed Notre Dame’s in everything that didn’t count towards the score board, with more yards passing, more yards rushing, more first downs and better yards per play. Unfortunately they also won the fight to be more inept on third downs and ran away with the battle to draw more penalties. The Trojans saw 11 penalty flags on the night, more than twice as many as the Irish, five of which came in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.
Feed the Man
Silas Redd stepped in for the injured Tre Madden to receive the bulk of the carries against the Irish and he did so with all the gusto you would expect from a senior leader. Going into half time, Redd had 14 carries for 91 yards and a touchdown. Well on his way to a big night, Redd had just five carries in the second half.
Buck Allen, Justin Davis and Ty Isaac shared the remainder of the carries between them with varying results. The question still stands, why did USC attempt just 31 rushes when the running game was by far their most effective offensive weapon?
Cody Kessler may get some criticism for his performance but his night wasn’t all that bad when adjustments are made for the mistakes around him. His perfectly thrown ball to Marqise Lee should have been caught for a touchdown and his final two fourth quarter passes were on the mark to get USC onto the next set of downs and a chance at the win. Instead he finished with 58% completed passes for 201 yards and an interception. Having said that, Kessler was not without his problems. The interception, the result of a terrible throw, came in a key moment to start the second half and the two sacks he took could have be avoided with better pocket presence.
Nelson Agholor came up big in the second straight game, leading the team with six catches for 89 yards. Unfortunately, he took a licking on the final offensive play for the Trojans to join the ranks of injured USC receivers. Darreus Rogers returned from injury for a promising six receptions and 60 yards, but he too left the game injured. But wait, there’s more! Marqise Lee was in street clothes by the second half after tweaking his knee injury. Lee had a shifty first down catch to wet Trojan appetites, but he’ll remember this game for the touchdown he dropped.
In positive news, Soma Vainuku caught two passes for two first downs on his way to shedding his “bad hands” tag.
|FIELD GOAL ATTEMPTS|
|Heidari, Andre||2nd||12:12||40 yards||Missed|
|Heidari, Andre||2nd||07:50||22 yards||Good|
|Heidari, Andre||4th||09:25||46 yards||Missed|
Andre Heidari was a freshman All-American, but you wouldn’t have guessed it based on last night’s performance. He just sneaked a chip shot 22-yarder inside the uprights, but the two that really would have counted, attempts from 40 and 46 yards were never even close. Confidence in Heidari is so low that Ed Orgeron decided to attempt a 4th-20 instead of giving Heidari the chance to put USC within one point of Notre Dame late in the game.
Brown Returns, Troubles Remain
Leonard Williams led the team in tackles again, but the story of the game on defense was Anthony Brown. The redshirt junior returned from injury with plenty of fanfare, but it seems that the hype-machine was blowing smoke. Notre Dame targeted Brown early and often. His second-best seven tackles are actually sign of a performance so terrible he resorted to tackling his man rather than letting him run his route.
On the positive side, Su’a Cravens made the early goal line stop by bursting into the back field and dropping Notre Dame’s Cam McDaniels on fourth down. His second tackle for loss forced the fumble that he then recovered. Lamar Dawson made the highlight reel with his crushing sack on Tommy Rees.