USC and Notre Dame were scheduled to start on ABC at 12:30 but where bumped to ESPN News as #2 Ohio State and #3 Michigan went into overtime. USC started with the ball and moved down the field with relative ease before settling for a field goal.
On the ensuing Irish possession on the first play from the line of scrimmage Notre Dame running back Josh Adams found a crease and busted out a 74-yard run down to the USC 1. Irish QB DeShone Kizer punched it into the end zone to give Notre Dame the lead. Not to be outdone USC went on a 7 play 75 yard drive for a touchdown capped off by a 51-yard touchdown run by Ronald Jones II.
After a couple of punts, and a couple of scuffles the first quarter would come to a close with the rain really starting to come down and the Trojans still up 10-7. After a furious start, the defenses and the weather began to take over the game. The offensive fireworks ground to a halt in the second quarter as rain really began to put a damper on things.
The score remained 10-7 until finally with less than 90 seconds left in the half, Notre Dame was in a fourth and long situation and kicking out of their end zone. The ball was snapped and went out of the back of the end zone. It was not a safety however as the official was attempting to stop the game in order to allow for substitutions. Helton was more than furious with the officials for that but things turned out ok for the Trojans as the Irish got the kick off to Adoree’ Jackson who returned to the house for a touchdown.
The Trojans led 17-7 with over a minute left in the half. Notre Dame went to their 2-minute offense to try and get some points on the board before the half. Kizer, however, threw an interception to Ajene Harris who took it to the house for a touchdown. The Trojans scored two non-offensive touchdowns in 17 seconds of game clock. The Trojans would head to the locker room at half time up by 17 points.
The USC defense started off the second half with a great defensive stop, however, after forcing the punt Adoree’ fumbled it giving the Irish the ball back in USC territory. Notre Dame was able to turn the fumble into a touchdown when Kizer hit Chris Finke for a 14-yard pass for the score.
Just as the Irish were beginning to get some momentum in the second half Ronald Jones II took a shot to the head and was taken out of the ball game. Adoree’ Jackson then came in on offense. Sam Darnold hit Jackson on a swing pass who raced by the entire Irish defense for a 52-yard touchdown. USC went back up by 17 and Jackson had scores in two phases of the game and had as many points as the Notre Dame offense did at this point in the game. The rain had also stopped and the sun came back out.
The game once again slowed back down for most of the 3rd quarter and despite a huge lead there was not much emotion on the USC sideline. Notre Dame continued to push the ball on offense and take shots. Kizer took a shot deep with 1:01 left in the third quarter and hit Kevin Stepherson for a 29-yard touchdown. Stepherson beat Adoree Jackson and the Irish were back within 10.
Every time Notre Dame came up with a big play, however, USC had an answer and this time it was once again Adoree’ Jackson. Following Notre Dame’s third touchdown they kicked off to Jackson who took the ball 97 yards to to the house for his third touchdown of the game. If you are keeping score at home the Trojans’ defensive back had more touchdowns than Notre Dame’s quarterback at this point in the game. Adoree’ would deliver a celebratory Heisman pose after the return and the game would go into the fourth quarter with the Trojans leading 38-21.
The Irish were driving in the early 4th quarter when Kizer threw a backwards pass that was tipped and immediately recovered by the Trojans who had a clear path to the endzone but the referees blew the play dead immediately as an incomplete pass. Upon review the Trojans were given the ball.
USC drove the ball to the opposite site of the field. Aca'Cedric Ware was running the ball inside the Irish 20 when he took a nasty shot by number 28 Nicco Fertitta and forced a fumbled. The Irish recovered by after two reviews it was determined that Fertitta was guilty of targeting on Ware. Fertitta was ejected, Ware came out of the game but the Trojans got the ball back.
Jerry Tillery the defensive lineman number 99 for the Irish actually kicked the head of Ware as he was laying lifeless after taking a head shot. Shortly thereafter Tillery deliberately stepped on the foot of Zach Banner who was lying on the ground. This time the refs saw it and flagged it. to Brian Kelly’s credit he ripped into Tillery on the sidelines.
After the Ware injury, a timeout, the dirty shots from Tillery, and a pass interference flag Darnold hit Juju Smith-Schuster in the end zone to go up 45-21. Juju came up limping after the touchdown, however. The Trojans picked up another defensive stop and Clay Helton brought in Max Browne and other seniors to round out the game.
Adoree’ Jackson would finish with over 200 all-purpose yards and 3 touchdowns. The Irish would tack on a garbage time when Malik Zaire hit Equanimeous St. Brown for a touchdown pass. The Irish would go for 2 and fail. Notre Dame would attempt an onside kick but Juju Smith-Schuster recovered with 61 seconds left in the game.
Max Browne would run the clock out and USC would win 45-27 and the Trojans were left to wait and hope Utah could pull off the upset.
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