A rivalry that’s lost some of its prestige in recent years is the one between USC and Notre Dame. The Trojans were the next team to run all over the Fighting Irish, winning 49-14 with a big game for Cody Kessler, setting down some groundwork for hopefully a big season next year.
Kessler threw six touchdown passes as USC took a 35-0 lead before letting up and allowing the Irish to get back into the game. Everett Golson, who began this season looking like a Heisman candidate and ended up doing worse and worse with every week that went by, threw one interception pass (no touchdowns), completing just 7-of-18 throws for 75 yards, not to mention racking up a negative 14 yards on only three carries.
For the fourth time in five seasons, both teams weren’t ranked heading into the game. And overall, the trend of the last two decades remained. USC didn’t just win, but they crushed a crumbling Fighting Irish team, winning for the 13th time since 1996 and ending a two-game losing streak. The one time either team was ranked in the last five seasons was in 2012, when Notre Dame were the #1 team in the country, going undefeated through the regular season until they met a wall called Alabama.
It’s remarkable to see the slide Notre Dame have been on since losing to Florida State. One controversial offensive interference call going against them which probably shouldn’t have been called, causing them to lose against the Seminoles, and everything fell apart. They did beat Navy a week later, but Everett Golson fell off the rails, throwing interceptions to anyone who asked for them while the team simply shut down, ending the regular season with four consecutive losses, including blowouts against Pac-12 teams.
This will be the third season in which Brian Kelly loses at least five games. He went 8-5 two years in a row to start his career in South Bend, followed by a 12-1 2012 and a 9-4 2013. This year seemed to be a step backwards despite the early impressive moments from Golson. Steve Sarkisian, known as the 7-win wonder before reaching eight wins last seasons with Washington, might hit nine wins this season if the Trojans win a bowl game. Not the leap he or the team were hoping for, but it’s nice to finish the season on a high, with some optimistic thoughts towards the future.