Click here for the recap and final stats.
Click here for the post-game press conference.
In the long history of the USC - Notre Dame rivalry, this game may not go down as a classic, but the fans on both sides will always remember Adoree' Jackson's performance. "Marvel ought to make him a superhero character," said USC head coach Clay Helton about his electrifying junior. "The guy made 21 points today for us." Jackson accounted for a game-high 291 all-purpose yards, including a 52-yard TD catch, a 55-yard punt return touchdown and a 97-yard kickoff return for six. "That's an incredible player right there," said CB Ajene Harris about his teammate. "I wish I had the speed that he has."
Defensively, the Trojans cut the head off the snake by constantly attacking Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer. "We had to give him different looks and kind of mix up the picture for him and get him a little confused because if you let him sit there, he'll eat you alive," said senior LB Michael Hutchings. The Trojans racked up a season-high six sacks led by 1.5 from team-leader Porter Gustin. The USC defense also continued its tremendous efficiency on third down, limiting the Fighting Irish to 5 of 17.
Wet and Wild
Halfway through the second quarter, the normally blue Southern California skies turned dark, gray and grim, unloading wind and rain on the Coliseum. The Trojans embraced the chaos, dancing and exhorting the crowd. "It's just an energetic team," said Harris. "It's really good to see everyone energetic on the sideline and helping our team out on the field." The sideline excitement galvanized the Trojans leading directly to Jackson's punt return for a touchdown and then Harris stepping in front of a Kizer pass for his first career pick-six. "I am the biggest fan of non-offensive touchdowns on the face of the earth right now," said Helton, who got three of them on a day when moving the ball was made difficult by the conditions.
The USC offense continues to be crafted into the mold that Helton imagined when he took over the team last season. The Trojans offensive line "owned the line of scrimmage" and paved the way for another huge afternoon on the ground. Sophomore RB Ronald Jones II ran for 134 yards and a TD on 16 carries. USC topped 200 yards rushing as a team for the fourth time in the last five games. "We were just able to get them reached, a lot of wide zone and a lot of big yards," said senior RT Zach Banner. "I couldn't be more proud of my offensive line."
The USC senior class has been "through thick and hell" as Banner said, so winning back-to-back rivalry games was a satisfying end to their final regular season. "I stayed out there as long as I could, just soaking the moment in," said Hutchings. "Now that we won and we did our job, I had time to really relax and take it all in and know that I won't be coming back here for awhile." USC's draft-eligible juniors, namely JuJu Smith-Schuster and Jackson, were serenaded by chants of "one more year" from the crowd as the Trojan Family hopes that they have also not seen the last of that dynamic duo padded up in the Coliseum.
USC went undefeated in October and November to close the season on an eight-game winning streak, but the sins of September ultimately doomed the Trojans. Utah was unable to beat Colorado, making the Buffaloes the Pac-12 South champions. While USC beat both teams in the Pac-12 Championship Game, the Trojans will be relegated to spectators on Friday night. "We know we have at least one more game. We've got a bowl game," said Banner. USC will find out its postseason destination on Sunday, December 4.
Here are the highlights from USC's final home game of 2016: