Honestly, did you expect anything different from a Notre Dame Fighting Irish football game?

It’s easy to believe Irish games are scripted, but if they were, Notre Dame wouldn’t have lost 34-27 on the last play of the game. And they wouldn’t have lost their eighth straight to USC, unless of course Pete Carroll is writing the screenplays. 

With one second remaining in the game, Jimmy Clausen took the snap and threw an incomplete pass to Duval Kumara, who appeared to have slipped on his route.  It would have made it four last minute victories in a row for the Irish.  Clausen, who was a Heisman frontrunner entering this contest, completed 26 of 43 passes 243 yards and two touchdowns.

His counterpart on the other sideline, USC freshman quarterback Matt Barkley had a career day, completing 19 passes for 380 yards, a touchdown and an interception. 

When USC RB Joe McKnight scored on a 1-yard run to make the score 34-14 with just under 14 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, it seemed like the route was on. But the Irish showed their character, and Clausen led the Irish on a quick, seven- play touchdown drive that ate up only three minutes on the clock.

On the ensuing possession for the Trojans, Notre Dame cornerback Gary Gray picked Barkley off and returned it 30 yards to the USC 13 yard-line. Clausen then found big play receiver Golden Tate for a 15-yard score, making it 34-27 with less than eight minutes to go. Tate finished the game with eight catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns. 

The Irish defense finally found a way to stop the USC offense - who scored touchdowns on their first three possessions of the second half - which set up Clausen for their last drive and a chance to tie the game.

With four seconds left, Clausen threw incomplete to Tate from the USC 4-yard-line, which appeared to end the game. But, after the referees reviewed the play, they found that one second still remained. However, the Irish offense failed to take advantage of the extra play.

“Once again, our team showed we’re going to play to the end of the game,” coach Weis said after the game. “I’m proud of the way they fought but I’m still disappointed on the outcome.” 

USC TE Anthony McCoy had a huge day for the Trojans, with five catches for 153 yards. Notre Dame receiver Robby Parris had nine catches for 92 yards, none bigger than a fourth-and-10 catch with less than a minute remaining.   

The Irish (4-2) return to action next week when Boston College visits South Bend.