It was called the "Game of the Century". USC was riding a 27-game winning streak and the defending national champions while Notre Dame was (4-1) and ranked ninth in the nation behind first-year head coach Charlie Weis. The 2005 meeting between USC and Notre Dame went down to the wire so as we get ready for another chapter of the rivalry this Saturday, let's look back at USC's incredible win 10 years ago today.
Before the game, Notre Dame warmed up in their usual blue jerseys and gold pants but as they came out for the start of the game, the Irish had switched to green jerseys with gold pants and gold helmets.
USC jumped out to a 14-7 lead after the first quarter thanks to a touchdown from Reggie Bush and LenDale White. Keith Rivers picked off a Brady Quinn pass that set up the Bush touchdown and the Trojans had a little momentum heading into the second quarter.
But in the second quarter, it was all Irish. Quinn took his team on a 10-play 72-yard drive early in the second quarter that ended with a 32-yard passing touchdown from Quinn to Jeff Samardzija (now on the White Sox). After a Trojans three-and-out, Notre Dame safety Tom Zbikowski returned the punt 60 yards for a touchdown to give the Irish a 21-14 lead. USC had a chance to tie the game on the ensuing possession, but Matt Leinart threw an interception in the end zone to end the drive. The teams would exchange punts for the rest of the half and the Trojans would trail the Irish 21-14 at the half.
USC came out in the second half and converted a 4th and 1 on their own 19-yard line before Matt Leinart threw his second interception of the game. However, after forcing the Irish to a three-and-out, the Trojans went back to the running game as Bush took a 2nd and 5 for 45 yards to tie the game up at 21. The score would remain the same until the Irish converted on a 32-yard field goal on the second play of the fourth quarter. USC would go three-and-out and the Irish would miss a 34-yard field goal as the Trojans would get the ball back with 7:22 remaining in the game.
The Trojans executed a 10-play 80-yard drive as Matt Leinart connected with three different receivers on the drive before Reggie Bush ran it in from nine yards out for his third rushing touchdown of the evening (his career-high in rushing touchdowns in a single game at USC). But the Irish responded as Brady Quinn ran it in from five yards out to finish a eight-play 87-yard drive as Notre Dame took 31-28 lead with 1:58 left.
The Trojans 27-game winning streak was in danger. Could Leinart lead the Trojans?
One of the greatest drives in USC history was about to take place. The drive started out absolutely horrible as Leinart threw an incomplete pass to Dwyane Jarrett on first down (I think we will talk about Jarrett later in the drive) before being sacked on 2nd down. Trojans now have a 3rd and 20 with 1:44 left. After a timeout, Leinart connected with Bush for 11 yards to set up a 4th and 9 with 1:32 left. After a timeout, USC came out with Leinart under center and Jarrett lined up on the left side. Leinart snapped the ball as the Irish brought the blitz (beautiful blitz pickup by Bush to give Leinart more time) and the 2004 Heisman Winner threw the ball just over the head of Irish defensive back Ambrose Wooden and into the arms of Jarrett for a first down and more as Jarrett ran down the sideline before Wooden tripped him up at the Irish 13-yard line for a gain of 61.
After an incompletion and a Bush gain of six to the ND seven-yard line, the Trojans ran the ball again (they had no timeouts) and Bush gained five more yards for a first down at the two-yard line. On the ensuing play, Leinart set up with five-wide and as the pocket collapsed, he scrambled to the left side and dove for the pylon but the ball was knocked out by Irish linebacker Corey Mays with :07 left. Well, the clock operator thought the ball was still in play and the clock went down to :00 and the Irish win. Charlie Weis and the Irish celebrate and fans storm the field...
NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND (Lee Corso reference)
Since the ball was knocked out of play, the play is dead and the Trojans got the ball back with :07 left. Down 31-28 with seven seconds left, USC comes out with two to the right and left of Leinart with Bush in the backfield. Leinart hikes the ball and is planning to sneak it in but is stuffed before turning his back to the end zone and being pushed in by Bush, USC SCORES!! The Trojans escape South Bend with a 34-31 victory.
<iframe width="420" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/weu3ShNvyvE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
One of the greatest games took place in South Bend 10 years ago today. The NCAA might have vacated that season from USC but they will never vacate that memory from Trojan coaches, players, and fans.