Beyond the Boxscore: Notre Dame Defense Brings the Hammer Down in 48-20 Win Over USC

A defensive tour-de-force for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish helped bring about a 48-20 pounding of the Southern Cal Trojans on Saturday night. The Irish defenders constantly delivered the big plays that had been lacking in the team’s first seven games and helped hand the first loss of the season to the tenth-ranked Trojans.

The win was an important one for Notre Dame, which effectively shut down a Southern Cal squad that had averaged nearly 52 points in their first six games. Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams was sacked six times and the Irish collected five turnovers, the latter two fumbles late in the fourth quarter that cemented the win.

Below are some of the key aspects of the clutch victory:

Big Play Magic

Entering Saturday night’s game, Williams had thrown just one interception in six games. In just the first half of play, that statistic changed dramatically for the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. Notre Dame picked him off three times, with all of those mistakes leading to touchdowns for the Irish.

The first came on the fourth play from scrimmage when Williams’ attempted quick pass was overthrown and returned by Xavier Watts to the Trojan 12-yard-line. Then, during the latter part of the second quarter, Watts narrowly missed delivering a pick-six when he was knocked out of bounds at the Southern Cal one. On the Trojans’ next series, Benjamin Morrison snagged another errant Williams toss at midfield.

Watts Brings the Electricity

For most of this season, Watts has been under the radar when it comes to the Notre Dame secondary. During the huge victory, Watts was front and center on this unit after his two interceptions and a fumble recovery that was returned for a touchdown in the final minutes.

The aforementioned first interception delivered some badly needed momentum to the Irish and their fans by putting the ball in the Trojan Red Zone. The subsequent touchdown came just 3:30 into the game and set the tone for the game. His second pick helped lead to a score that gave Notre Dame a double-digit advantage for the remainder of the clash.

Delivering the Proper Response

Despite holding a 24-6 halftime lead, it was inevitable that a team with the Trojans’ talent would inevitably forge some sort of comeback. They did score a pair of touchdowns in the second half, but any sweaty palms for Irish fans were quickly dried when Notre Dame was able to quickly respond with counter-punches.

Midway through the third quarter, Southern Cal chopped their deficit to 11 after MarShawn Lloyd broke off a 31-yard scoring run to make it 24-13. The Irish answered back with a six-play drive that culminated with a 46-yard scoring toss to Chris Tyree. Then, the Trojans made it a 31-20 game with just over nine minutes left before then watching Jadarian Price race 99 yards on the ensuing kickoff to push the margin back up to 18 points.

An Estime Revival

Any thoughts that Audric Estime’s recent statistical dip was a hint of future performance were put to rest on Saturday night. Estime finished the game with 95 yards on 22 carries, scoring twice and catching one pass for four yards. No other Irish runner carried the ball more than three times, an indication that Estime remains the driving force of the running game.

The 95 yards were the most for Estime since his 176-yard effort against Central Michigan on September 16. The performance comes just one week after he was held to just 20 yards on 10 carries against Louisville. That effort brought about questions during head coach Marcus Freeman’s weekly press conference about Estime’s usage.

The Penalty Sequel

The nagging issue of penalties surfaced again, some of which proved to be costly to Notre Dame during the course of the game. The mistakes made resulted in 10 points for Southern Cal, with the Irish getting flagged five times for 54 yards.

Morrison figured in three of the calls, the first on a holding call on third down that extended a Trojan drive which ended with a punt. However, the next mistake, a personal foul call eventually resulted in USC’s first points on a field goal. In the third quarter, a pass interference call on first-and-25 laid the groundwork for the Trojans’ first touchdown. In addition to Morrison, defensive lineman Jaylen Sneed was also flagged for running into the punter, though that drive later ended on a clutch fourth-quarter stop.

Next Up

A break in the action will take place next Saturday with Notre Dame enjoying the first of two bye weeks, the latter coming next month. When this first interlude ends, the Irish will focus on their next opponent, the Pitt Panthers on October 28. The Panthers lost four of their first five games, then thrashed the Louisville Cardinals, the team that the Irish lost to last week, on Saturday night in a 38-21 victory. Next week, they travel to Wake Forest before facing Notre Dame under the Golden Dome.

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  1. Donald, I’m the one on Haldol, not David! Haldol would be a terrible choice for him, he doesn’t need a typical anti-psycotic.
    David needs meds for emotional explosions; he is either emotionally crippled or he is actually a disturbed teen.

    BGC 77 82 0

  2. Freeman is a Tressel disciple
    Running the ball is his goal.
    I suspect the first year OC knows that.
    Pleasing the HC is his goal and is vital to his job security. The risk/reward of throwing more is being questioned.
    But with Hartman, you gotta take advantage of his established proficiency of throwing deep. A few more successful bombs will loosen up the run game. Predictability is an issue w/ O scheme. You can pass with two TEs in and run from a spread formation. Turn Sam loose more while you still have him. More chunk plays w/ a dominant D= double digit wins this season.

    1. There’s simply a lack of WR skill to provide opportuinty to throw more.
      Tyree’s 46-yarder was a reminder us that Hartman has NO problem hitting a receiver in full stride.
      They just need to get open enough to start the process.

  3. Poor little dopey david against the world, don’t be so paranoid!
    Maybe time to up the dose on your Haldol
    It’s just people posting that are entirely sick of you bullshit!

    Sam Hartman should run the ball when possible ( just like any other QB at any other school)

    1. Yuo should run with scissors. In traffic.
      But not naked….your issue “down there” would gross anyone out.
      Well, except Edna.

  4. Why isn’t Jadarian Price getting any carries out of the backfield. Seems he has become the forgotten RB in the rotation. Let’s get that guy 7 to 10 carries. He is fully healthy now.

    1. Better yet,….have Sam Hartman run the ball 20-25 times. After all, he’s no good for anything else.

      ….whatever joker made throwing the ball a “thing” way back when really didn’t know much about football.

      1. Better yet let’s lift the ban on Hydraulic lifts at Notre Dame practices. Dick with Ears David needs a job.

      2. Wow…that must have been quite the pull, getting that one all the way out of your arse.
        Next, let’s try to keep the crayons inside the lines.

  5. Hey dopey david
    You were also WRONG
    Did you not say
    “ND will lay an egg”
    At least I was man enough to make a prediction
    Pussy david picks both sides

    1. Dopey davey is a nit wit monday morning no nothing!! Remember daveys list of coaches he wanted….WILLIE TAGGART (hows that simplistic velocity workin ) FROSTY (they still hate him at Neb ) PJ FLECK ( another 6-6 season after 5 years ) Simmer down davey, stick with your tv guide list of games u rather watch.

      1. Edna, you seem eerily in allignment with Donna, and you have goldkey access to Rhonda’s mean girl scrapbook……

        Are all “three” of you actually just the same thin-skinned child?

  6. I had predicted a double digit Trojan win based on the 3 prior weeks. Boy am I glad I’m wrong.
    And really happy they won.
    But still frustrated. After last night it’s obvious the Louisville debacle never should have happened. And even Duke and Ohio St. should have been more favorable.

    The offense is not fixed.

    The coaching staff can do this but they seem not to be able to week in and week out. Remember last year, Clemson was after a swoon too.

    Can they maintain? Is school and classes preventing something or are the coaches missing something?

    I’d like to think Notre Dame can do it and do it right.

    1. Edit: The offense is broken.

      Without a once-in-forever effort by the defense, USC would have had subs in the game for the 4th qtr, and that stupid fight song would have played all night.

  7. Costume night has a 100% correlation with “big game loss”.
    Last night was a very big win. Team looked great wearing the uniform.

    So let’s get right to work on next year’s costume….it’s got to be really something!

  8. Irish have a shot at 10-2. Clemson stands in the way + Freeman’s team have a tendency to let down sometimes for inferior teams. ie Marshall, Stanford, Louisville.

    If they go 10-2, it will show ND and Freeman are free of that tendency. If not, The ghost of Gerry Faust may be close by.
    (Faust was up and down w/ big wins over #1 Pitt followed by losses to mediocre teams)

    Let’s look for 10-2 and a win in a New Years day big howl for 11-2. I hope Hartman sticks around for the bowl win too!!

    1. ND had only one drive longer than 50 yards, and converted only 3 of 10 3rd downs.
      If you’re presuming the defense could possibly play that well for the remainder of the schedule,
      I’d pump the brakes a bit.

      1. The offense took what it was given….when your handed the ball 3 times on their side of the field you aren’t going rack up a lot of yards….USC D was handled when their best asset coming in was havoc rate and we allowed no sacks, TFLs, or turnovers and Estime ran for nearly 5 yards per carry. USC could have done what we have done all year and made some red zone stops but they only held us to a field goal on two red zone possessions. The O stepped up and had a nice drive after they scored making it 10-3 and then after they closed to 11 in the second half they had their best drive culminating in the bomb to Tyree. They have their limits because of our lack of elite WRs and injuries with even the mediocre WRs we do have. What was important was the O-Line returned to form and limited the stupid false starts and holds. Also the D has played great all season (minus Louisville) including many great red zone stands against tOSU and Duke. I see no reason why they won’ t continue bar major injuries. Now we get a much needed bye week after playing 8 games with 4 night games against undefeated ranked opponents. Hopefully we get some WRs back and get the Lacross kid and that other fab freshman more work and come back with some new wrinkles for the offense. 3 of those 4 opponents left are just horrible but Clemson on the road (probably at night) with revenge on their minds is going to be a tough game regardless of their record. Go Irish….still plenty to play for as 10 wins, and a winning a New Years Six bowl would still be a great season.

  9. A game for the ages
    Now they know
    what fans knew about NDs D’
    Not careless TOs by Caleb
    Forced TOs
    Ask Caleb about #1, and #3 and # 8 and # 27 & 97’s tipped pass
    or 99 or # 51 or . . .
    The one long ND pass = TD
    More of those, please
    No missed FGs
    A 99 yard kick return from Jadarian
    starring Xavier Watts
    w/ a host of co-stars
    We watched what we knew
    ND D’ could be and have been
    Looking ahead
    Paging the offense scheme
    Turn Sam loose
    A few chunk plays will get ND to 10Ws

    1. 2/3 of a game for the ages: Defense, and special teams.
      Offense could have stayed home eating cheeseburgers……as some rich now-retired football coach once once said.

      1. You seem to think that scoring in the red zone is just no big deal…..go ask Oregon how big of a deal it is……Offense took advantage of what they were given….no Sacks, no TFLs, no Turnovers, no False starts, no Holds, and Estime had close to a 100 for 5 yards per carry. If we can just get some WRs back after this break, or get that fab freshman on the field we should look much better down the stretch than we have the last 4 weeks.

  10. Not sure I’ve ever witnessed anything quite like it last night. 48 points with basically no offense. hats off to the crowd, I thought it was another great atmosphere.
    Go Irish!

    1. Please do a welfare check on Donna, aka ED.
      Her “SC wins and not even close…see how easy it is” faceplant might have left her with a self-harm level migraine today.

  11. Nice to see a college football tem in Colorado play right to the end and execute a comeback for the ages!
    Go Aggies! Colorado’s team! Fuck the Choke-O Cinco show !

  12. As I had hoped, Caleb Williams revealed his old, petulant childish self early and often last night.
    Scouts take note.

    1. Funny you should say that as a good buddy that watches a lot of Pro and NCAA football was saying to me yesterday that was the first time in two years that CW was really pressured and that he didn’t respond well and made a lot of errors….he too was questioning if this will affect his draft stock. I know one thing….all his remaining 2-PAC opponents will be looking to replicate what we did, probably only Utah and Oregon have the talent on defense to do it but I really expect him to get a lot more pressure down the stretch. It just woth remembering that great D beats great O in football. This reminded me of Tampa vs. KC in the superbowl a few years ago when Mahomes was totally throttled by a great D that pressured and frustrated him. Our D had been elite in 18, 20 and now this year……if we can just get the edge talent sorted on offense will will have a shot to win it all in the coming years with the 12 team CFP format.

  13. Can youn imagine oif this team had an OC with imagination?
    When your ‘secret weapon’ is a 180 lb. walk-on lacrosse player, you’re a Disney movie.

    1. Absolutely correct David. Notredame is 8 and 0 if Swarbrick would have paid the buy out on Ludwigs contract. Thanks Jack. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

      1. I don’t think that is accurate……Ludwig himself said he decided to stay because of family and comfort level at Utah. I will say this though, it seemed like after the Ludgwig whiff we just settled on the internal candidate without really looking at other OCs with experience. I am not as sure it would have mattered as you are though when Reese was lured to the best program in the country, by a HOF coach and offered ridiculous money. This is the same guy that couldn’t put up points against a terrible Stanford team and also had a lot of inconsistency. The problem many years is no elite WRs…..we have to get that sorted….but look back at all the years under Kelly (supposed to be an Offensive wizard when hired) that we put up 14 points or less against top matchups. Lets not forget we lost the line coach as well, the new guy seems solid, but Heistand was a legend. It will be interesting to see if Free sticks with Parker next year, hoping he grows and going for continuity or if he looks to get an upgrade with someone with an established track record.

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