(Saturday, October 17th)
Final Score: (6) Southern California 34, (25) Notre Dame 27
South Bend, IN (Sports Network) - Damian Williams recorded four catches for 108 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while the Trojans defense thwarted a last- second Fighting Irish drive as sixth-ranked USC bested No. 25 Notre Dame, 34-27.
Matt Barkley finished 19-of-29 for 380 yards, two scores and an interception for the Trojans (5-1), who have won three straight since a memorable defeat at Washington.
Anthony McCoy led all receivers with 153 yards on five receptions, while Joe McKnight and Allen Bradford each contributed a rushing TD for USC, which posted its eighth consecutive victory over its cross-country rivals.
"We gave you something to hang around for," said USC head coach Pete Carroll. "Anytime you come here and win it's good. Unfortunately the way it turned out, we kept giving opportunities back, let these guys hang around. They played great. I thought Notre Dame played a heck of a football game today. Made us go all the way to the end to hold onto it."
Jimmy Clausen went 24-of-43 for 260 yards and two touchdowns but was sacked five times, as the Irish (4-2) saw their three-game win streak halted despite a fourth-quarter rally from a 20-point deficit.
Golden Tate racked up 117 yards and two scores on eight grabs, Robby Parris added nine catches for 92 yards and Robert Hughes scored on the ground for Notre Dame, which has not topped USC since October 20, 2001.
"How we're going to move forward is we have a team that's beaten us six times in a row," said Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis of his team's outlook for next week. "Boston College is rolling in. They've had our number here for quite some time. That's the next mission we have to take to task."
The Trojans, leading by seven, were unable to convert a 3rd-and-10 in their own territory and, following a punt, the Irish got the ball on their own 22 with 4:18 to play.
Facing a 4th-and-10 from the Trojans' 29-yard-line with 42 seconds to go, Clausen's pass to Parris was complete for a first down. A personal foul on the tackle put the ball at the eight, and after a roughing-the-passer penalty pushed the ball to the four, a potential game-tying touchdown on first down was ruled incomplete upon a lengthy review.
Clausen's second-down pass was nearly picked off with one second on the clock, and USC began to celebrate. But another review determined the second should remain on the clock despite both sidelines emptying onto the field. However, Clausen's third-down attempt for the end zone was thrown into triple coverage and fell incomplete to end the contest.
"I was going to use my last timeout to make that decision," said Weis when asked if he'd have gone for two if a touchdown was scored. My gut is I probably would not have. I probably would have kicked the extra point, make the freshman quarterback beat you in overtime versus the veteran quarterback."
USC struck on its second possession of the contest when Barkley hit Williams for a 20-yard score to cap an 88-yard drive.
Late in the first, a 25-yard completion from Eric Maust to Parris on a fake field goal netted a 25-yard gain to the USC two, and on the following play Hughes took a direct snap into the end zone for a 7-7 tie.
Runs by McKnight and Bradford of 25 and 23 yards on the Trojans' march early in the second quarter set up a 24-yard field goal by Jordan Congdon for a 10-7 game.
The Trojans had a fumble call overturned in Irish territory on their next drive and Congdon was good from 37 yards out for a six-point USC edge with 7:10 left in the half. The lead stood at the break.
Notre Dame's first drive of the second half was successful deep into Trojan territory, but USC's defense was able to stand tall on a 4th-and-1 from the 27. Barkley turned around and led a six-play drive, ending with his connection to Williams for a 41-yard TD and 20-7 advantage.
"He's just remarkable. There's no way to describe it because there's nobody else to compare him to in our history," Carroll said of his true freshman signal-caller. "He's just so poised and so comfortable in the arena that it doesn't really matter where we're playing; it doesn't affect him."
Unbowed, Clausen engineered a scoring drive on the following series, a 78-yard sprint in four plays. Tate was able to bring in a 45-yard TD pass despite a big hit by a Trojans defensive back, getting the Irish within six.
On the next series, McCoy's 60-yard reception gave USC 1st-and-goal on the ND four, and Bradford took it in from the three two plays later for a 27-14 contest.
McKnight's one-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter gave USC a 34-14 advantage, but the Irish nearly came back. Clausen's two-yard TD run minus the blocked extra point got Notre Dame within 34-20 with a little more than 11 minutes to play.
An interception return to the USC 13 by Gary Gray helped Notre Dame shrink its deficit to 34-27, as Clausen connected with Tate on a 15-yard scoring play with 7:28 left in regulation.
USC racked up 501 yards of total offense, compared to 367 for Notre Dame...Notre Dame still leads the all-time series, 42-34-5...USC had outscored ND 76-3 over the last two years, including a 38-0 drubbing in Indiana two years ago...McKnight finished with 79 yards on 19 carries and Bradford ended with 45 yards on eight rushes...Hughes wound up with only 17 yards on six attempts...The Trojans return to the LA Coliseum next Saturday to host Oregon State.
10/17 22:36:54 ET