(Dougal Brownlie/Living Out Loud LA)
A week after cross-town neighbor UCLA beat the Trojans, USC asserted themselves against longtime rival Norte Dame on Saturday. Both teams came into the match with a regular season record of 7-4 in the Pac-12 division but it was the Trojans that blasted their way to a 49-14 victory at the Coliseum.
The win saw them move to 8-4 overall and 6-3 in the Pac-12 conference while their rivals fell to 7-5. The victory itself was largely aided by both junior Cody Kessler of the Trojans who threw six touchdowns, five coming before halftime and the Fighting Irish plagued with injuries on their defensive line. As a result, USC jumped to a 35-0 lead over the Fighting Irish within the first two quarters.
“Our future is ridiculously bright,” said USC coach Steve Sarkisian, who won his first shot at Notre Dame. “We’re going to be really good, and we’re not going anywhere.”
Norte Dame was never able to find a way into the game often with passes being incomplete which was contributed to both the position of the players and Everett Golson struggling to connect the ball with his players. The loss is now the fifth of the past six games that the Fighting Irish have lost. Malik Zaire stepped in as quarterback to help in providing the fans of Norte Dame with two touchdowns but the game was over before he could hope to recover the team’s loss to their long time rival.
The game really showed the resilience that USC had by pushing aside their loss to UCLA the week prior and coming out ready to rebound from their blowout loss. Cody Kessler went 32 for 40 and as a result of his performance during the game became the first quarterback to throw five touchdown passes in a half against Notre Dame. He also was able to complete 16 straight passes in a stretch spanning halftime.
“When everyone is in tune, this offense is capable of anything,” Kessler said. “You saw it today.”
One thing that the Trojans took advantage of early on was the fact that their counterpart’s injury woes on defense. As a result, they opted for a strategy that had their offense players compete at a very high caliber.
After USC’s JuJu Smith made a diving touchdown catch which was overturned by video review in USC’s first drive, Cody Kessler hit George Farmer for a beautiful 48-yard Touchdown just a few moments later.
USC fans and students alike were vocal in expressing their support for their team throughout the game. Their counterparts, the Fighting Irish will be disappointed they weren’t able to make a dent in their rival’s game but the Trojans played a tough game leading them to victory on an unusually hot November day in Los Angeles.