(Saturday, November 29th)
Final Score: (5) Southern California 38, Notre Dame 3
Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Mark Sanchez tossed for 267 yards and two touchdowns, as the fifth-ranked Southern California Trojans laid the whipping stick on Notre Dame once again with a 38-3 drubbing in the 80th meeting between the storied programs.
Joe McKnight led a balanced rushing attack with 63 yards and a touchdown on just four carries, while C.J. Gable and Stafon Johnson each added a score on the ground for USC (10-1), which has won eight straight games and got some help in its Pac-10 title quest as Oregon stomped rival Oregon State, 65-38, Saturday.
The Beavers and Trojans each held 7-1 conference records coming into Saturday's action, and the former held the tie-breaker with a 27-21 upset of USC earlier in the year. But with the Ducks' win, USC can wrap up the Pac-10 with a victory over UCLA next weekend.
Sanchez, who connected on 22-of-31 throws with two interceptions, threw his TD passes to Damian Williams and Patrick Turner, who logged 86 and 83 receiving yards, respectively, in the lopsided win.
The USC defense would simply not allow the Irish to get rolling, as they allowed 91 total yards, four first downs and registered two interceptions off Fighting Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who finished with 41 passing yards on 11-of-22 passes.
James Aldridge was the only notable offensive threat with 58 yards on 12 carries for Notre Dame (6-6), which dropped four of its final five games to end another disappointing regular season, low-lighted by a 24-23 loss to Syracuse a week ago, the program's first-ever defeat to an eight-loss team.
Several skirmishes took place between the teams during pre-game warm-ups, but it was the Trojans that landed the 60-minute knockout blow.
Midway through the opening quarter, USC mounted a 12-play, 79-yard drive that featured two third-down conversions, including Sanchez's 24-yard fade to Williams on 3rd-and-9 at the Notre Dame 42. Johnson finished off the impressive march on a two-yard TD run with 4:06 left in the first.
The Irish mustered just 21 yards without moving the chains in the first quarter, and Clausen threw a pick in USC territory early in the second. On the next play from scrimmage after the turnover, McKnight zigzagged his way through the Irish defense for a 55-yard touchdown at the 9:05 mark.
After another fruitless Irish possession, the Trojans scored in quick fashion, with Williams being left all alone in the middle of the field for an easy 12- yard touchdown with 4:38 left in the half.
The hosts managed to tack on a 35-yard David Buehler field goal just before the intermission to go ahead 24-0.
Notre Dame was even worse offensively in the second quarter than it was in the first, netting a pitiful -12 yards in the frame and, once again, not gaining a first down.
The Irish picked off Sanchez in the end zone in the third quarter, but their woeful offense couldn't get out of their own way, punting the ball back into their own territory. In just six plays, USC moved the ball 44 yards, and Gable rushed it over goal line from one yard out with 5:03 to play in the third.
James Aldridge's 15-yard run on the last play of the third quarter gave Notre Dame its first extra set of downs in the game. On four more carries, Aldridge got the ball to the USC 23, but faced with a 4th-and-3, the Irish decided to put some points on the board on a 41-yard field goal from Brandon Walker.
The Trojans responded with a nine-play, 84-yard drive that ended in a Turner reception of 17 yards in the end zone, finishing off the Trojans' seventh straight win over the Irish in dominating fashion.
The Irish still lead the all-time series, 42-33-5...The Trojans have won 28 straight home night games and are 27-0 in November under head coach Pete Carroll...Notre Dame's Mike Anello was carted off the field was an apparent leg injury in the first quarter...USC gained 449 yards of total offense.
11/30 00:23:36 ET