Notre Dame, Ind (UHND.com) — Notre Dame had the #1 team on the ropes with under a minute and 30 seconds to go. Facing a 4th and 8 in their own territory, USC converted the 4th down play with a 60 yard pass that set up Matt Leinart’s game winning touchdown with 3 seconds left.
A Trevor Laws sack set up a 3rd and 20 for USC with time ticking away, but Leinart hit Reggie Bush for 12 yards to set up a makeable 4th down. Leinart then hit Dwayne Jarret for 60 yards to convert the down and set up the game winning touchdown.
After the 4th down conversion, USC faced a first and goal from inside the 5. Matt Leinart couldn’t find anyone and tried to run it in. Leinart got hit hard and fumbled the ball out of bounds. The ball got placed inside the 1 yard line and Leinart ran a QB sneak on the next play.
The Irish had taken the lead with just over two minutes to go when Brady Quinn took a quarterback sneak in from 5 yards out for a 31-28 lead. The lead turned out to be short lived however.
Notre Dame lead for most of the game, but lost the lead in the 5th quarter on Reggie Bush’s 3rd touchdown of the game. Bush was unstoppable against Notre Dame today and the Irish simply had no answer for him.
The lead gave USC it’s first lead since they took a 14-7 lead in the first quarter on a Lendale White touchdown run.
Notre Dame responded with a touchdown pass to Jeff Samardjiza from Brady Quinn and then took the lead in the 2nd quarter with a Tommy Zbikowksi punt return for a touchdown for a 21-14 half time lead.
USC tied the game at 21 in the 3rd quarter, but the Irish had a chance to pad their lead and let it slip away in the 4th quarter. Up 24-21, the Irish had a chance to add to their lead, but a bad throw and route by Quinn and Asaph Schwapp resulted in a field goal attempt that DJ Fitzpatrick would go on to miss.
The series would end up haunting the Irish who saw numerous opportunities slip away from them in their bid to upset the #1 ranked Trojans. USC went on to take the lead after the missed field goal.
While reigning Heisman winner Matt Leinart looked average at best against the Irish, Reggie Bush looked super human out there. Bush would not be tackled and his 3 touchdowns were the difference. On all 3 runs, Notre Dame defenders had chances to tackle him but could not come up with the tackle.
Leinart however failed to throw a touchdown and added two picks after tossing 9 touchdowns against the Irish the past two years.
The loss hurts pretty badly for an Irish squad that has now seen two games slip out of their hands that they should have won. Most people would have been happy if they were told Notre Dame would be 4-2 at this point in the season, but coming close is no consolation.
After losing three straight to USC by a combined 93 points, it is great to see the Irish come out and knock them around a little, but the fact that they could have and should have won makes this loss hurt more than any of the 31 point blowouts.
This is definitely an improved Irish squad and that’s what makes this one hurt more. At least in past years when the Irish were blown out, there weren’t any plays or sequences that we could look at and say, if that doesn’t happen ND wins. The same cannot be said about today’s heart breaker.
Brighter days are definitely ahead for Notre Dame, but right now this one stings and its going to until the Irish find a way to beat these guys. The Irish did prove however that they can and will play with anyone in the country.