With 2:33 left and holding dearly onto a 22-13 lead the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12-0) were pushed up against its 1-yard line by a USC team predicated on offense. With their backs up against the proverbial wall with a perfect season and national title hopes in the balance, the blue and gold front seven valiantly rose to the occasion and kept the attacking Trojans out of the endzone on four straight offensive attempts to secure the nine-point victory.
It was not to be for the reeling USC Trojans (7-5) against a tight Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12-0) run defense that has only allowed 11 rushing TDs in just 30 games.
The top team in the nation has consistently won tight games on late defensive stands.
USC Coach Lane Kifin lamented on being the latest victim of the nation’s best defense..
"They've had a great goal-line defense all year," USC coach Lane Kiffin said. "They've done that to everybody down on the goal line. ... It's just so hard to score touchdowns versus them. When the ball is on the 2-inch line, you'd think you could score touchdowns."
This key win allows the 12-0 Notre Dame Fighting Irish to compete for the BCS National Championship January 7th in Florida. The first undefeated Notre Dame squad since 1988 was lead offensively by the steady play of QB Everett Golson’s 219 passing yards and the outstanding effort of dual threat Theo Riddick’s 146 yards rushing and one touchdown. Kicker Kyle Brindza also topped the evening with five field goals. His fifth on the night tied a Fighting record for field goals made in a game.
Notre Dame LB-extroadinaire, Heisman-hopeful, Mr. Hawaii Mant Te’o made an impact on Saturday’s victory by securing his FBS-leading seventh interception for linebackers on a pass defended in the second quarter. Te’o also added his name yet another record book becoming only the third Notre Dame defender with three 100-tackle seasona.
Te’o is very happy with his team’s win over its heated rival and national number one status but his eye is on the prize: The BCS Championship game in January.
"It's definitely a relief to be able to look at the big picture now, but it's a short window," said Te'o. "We can enjoy this, but then we're going to have to get prepared for one more game."
That opponent to challenge the Fighting Irish for national supremacy looks to be the winner of the Alabama-Georgia SEC Championship.