Notre Dame wins a defensive struggle over USC at home despite losing quarterback Tommy Rees to a minor neck injury. The Irish defense had to do some heavy lifting and came through as they were able to keep the Trojans from scoring throughout the entire second half.
Both offenses were moving the ball well to start off but significantly slowed as the game went on.
Notre Dame’s offense got down to the Trojan 1-yard line on the first drive of the game but couldn’t punch it in. USC held off Cam McDaniel on four consecutive goal line runs and took over on downs. The Trojans capitalized and strung together a 96-yard drive capped off by a Silas Redd rushing touchdown.
Tommy Rees again led the Irish down the field and tied up the game at seven with a touchdown pass to Troy Niklas with time still remaining in the first quarter. USC took back the lead in the second quarter with a field goal. Later in the half, Notre Dame secured the lead that they would go on to keep for the remainder of the game with a Rees touchdown pass to TJ Jones.
USC couldn’t get back into any sort of groove on offense for the rest of the game. Penalties and converting on third downs became a problem for the Trojans. The game eventually became gridlocked and was decided by whose defense could hold up. The strong defensive play was huge for Notre Dame in this win. Shutting out the USC offense in the second half was no easy task especially with little help from the offense.
The injury to quarterback Tommy Rees really hurt the Irish as they only managed 47 total yards in his absence. Hendrix couldn’t get it done in the passing game for the Irish. Brian Kelly chose only to go to the air four times with Hendrix. Kelly shared his disappointment in lack of offensive productivity behind Hendrix and said, "We've got to play better, flat out. You guys watched it, I watched it. He's got to play better."
Brian Kelly has now won three out of four games against the Trojans since being at Notre Dame.
ESPN reported that Kelly was happy with the team’s effort saying, "We battled and mentally and physically continued to play every play. That's what we ask of them. That's what I expect from our group is to keep competing regardless of what happens in the game."
Notre Dame now has a much brighter future. The team is maturing and there’s winnable games ahead. Stanford is the last big test and will be a tough challenge for Notre Dame. Getting upset by any other team