USC vs. Notre Dame score, quick recap: Trojans can’t finish upset bid

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images /

Saturday night’s USC vs. Notre Dame score briefly sent shockwaves through college football, with the playoff-contending Fighting Irish needing a win to finish at 12-0. They got it, despite falling down 10-0 early to Clay Helton’s Trojans.

The lowdown: The game started almost perfectly for the Trojans, delivering a USC vs. Notre Dame score more indicative that their potential than their recent form. With a pass-happy air raid-esque passing attack, JT Daniels dazzled early, including on an eight-play, 78-yard drive to kickoff the game. He led USC to a 10-0 lead through the game’s first 18 minutes, a span that saw the Trojans gain 206 yards against the Fighting Irish’s No. 3-ranked defense in S&P+, more than they had all game against Utah last month.

But the 10-0 lead would go the same route of USC’s long list of first half leads this season, for just about the same reasons: missed opportunities.

After Notre Dame scored on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Ian Book late in the second quarter, Amon-Ra St. Brown fumbled at the 15-yard line to squander a golden opportunity before the half just like he did against Cal. It was USC’s second turnover of the game, after Michael Pittman fumbled in Notre Dame territory back in the first quarter.

The Irish wasted little time taking the lead in the third quarter, when Dexter Williams scored on a 52-yard misdirection run, giving Notre Dame their first lead at 14-10. A 46-yard Justin Yoon field goal with just over a minute remaining in the quarter put ND up a touchdown, a lead that would hold.

True to form, the Trojans failed to score until the game’s final minute. Meanwhile, Notre Dame put the game away on Tony Jones Jr.’s 51-yard reception midway through the final quarter, winning 24-17 to keep USC out of a bowl for the first time since 2000.

Player of the game: Jordan McMillan. The walk-on Trojan safety intercepted Ian Book in the fourth quarter during his first significant action at the college level in lieu of injuries to safeties Marvell Tell and CJ Pollard.

Stat of the game: The Irish finished the game scoring 24 unanswered points, becoming the fifth different team in 2018 to record a scoring run of 20 points or more against USC. Texas and Utah both went on 34-0 runs to beat the Trojans.

Next on tap: At 5-7, USC is not eligible for a bowl game without the help of sanctions for the first time since 2000. Their season is over. The Trojans will host Fresno State to kick off the 2019 season next September.