for this game

Defense leads Southern Cal in rout of Notre Dame

Nov 30, 2008 - 6:33 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- One of the biggest mismatches in the history of a storied college football rivalry proved to be all that and more.

Mark Sanchez threw for 267 yards and two touchdowns as fifth-ranked Southern California used a stifling defense to blast Notre Dame, 38-3, on Saturday.

Joe McKnight, C.J. Gable and Stafon Johnson each scored rushing touchdowns and the Trojans' defense did not surrender a first down until the final play of the third quarter.

"People always ask if this is our best defense ever and all I can say is we're playing the best we ever have," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "Nobody is playing better for us than these guys. Nobody can seem to score on us."

USC (10-1) can clinch a berth in the Rose Bowl with a win over UCLA next Saturday after Oregon State was routed by Oregon, 65-38, on Saturday.

"It's the only place for us right now," Carroll said of USC's bowl possibilities. "It's always what we play for ... but, you never know."

USC ranked fifth in the BCS prior to this weekend's games, and with wins by Oklahoma, Alabama and Florida on Saturday, it is left on the outside looking in for the national title picture. The Trojans would clinch at least a matchup with Penn State in Pasadena if they beat the Bruins.

The Trojans have won seven straight meetings with the Fighting Irish, with five of those victories coming by 31 points or more.

Notre Dame (6-6) managed just 91 total yards, four first downs and turned the ball over three times to end a tumultuous regular season that may see the end of coach Charlie Weis' tenure in South Bend.

The well-documented rivalry between two of college football's most historic schools continued its one-sided trend in this one. USC nearly handed the Irish their worst loss in the rivalry's history, which was set during last year's 38-0 beatdown at Notre Dame Stadium.

"I think you saw the discrepancy between these two teams is very wide," Weis said. "Their defense was whipping us pretty good all the way until the third quarter when we finally got something going."

The embarrassing loss for the Fighting Irish came just one week after they lost, 24-23, to lowly Syracuse.

With talk swirling about a buyout of the remaining seven years on Weis' 10-year contract, another poor performance against the Trojans is sure to ignite even more skepticism.

"I'm not concerned with that right now," Weis said when asked about his future. "I'm more concerned with the health of my team and the spirit of my team. And I'm concerned with going on the road and recruiting to make my team better and make sure we're bringing in another top class."

The Trojans were far from perfect in the latest installment, but it did not matter much as they led, 24-0, at halftime.

It was a dominant performance on the defensive side of the ball as Notre Dame's Weis-coached offense managed just nine yards in the opening half.

Quarterback Jimmy Claussen finished 11-of-21 for 41 yards and threw a pair of first-half interceptions.

"I was frustrated a little bit," Claussen said. "They were getting pressure by rushing just four and it disrupted everything else. It's tough. It was a tough day, but the team will bounce back from this."

The loss was the fifth in six games as Notre Dame lost for the 15th time since the beginning of the 2007 campaign, the most defeats over a two-year span in the program's storied history.

Johnson scored from 2 yards out in the first quarter and McKnight outran the Irish defense for a 55-yard score with 9:05 remaining in the second for a 14-0 lead.

Sanchez, who completed 22-of-31 with a pair of interceptions, connected on scoring throws to Damian Williams and Patrick Turner.








  • NCAAF FINAL
    1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    NOTRE DAME 0 0 0 3 3
    USC (5) 7 17 7 7 38 FINAL
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: USC - TD, STAFON JOHNSON RECOVERED
    BLOCKED PUNT IN END ZONE
    (DAVID BUEHLER KICK), 10:54.
    USC 7-0
    2ND QUARTER: USC - TD, JOE MCKNIGHT 55 YD RUN (DAVID
    BUEHLER KICK), 5:55. USC 14-0
    USC

    Nov 29 11:02 PM


  • NCAAF
    TD USC
    PATRICK TURNER 17 YD PASS FROM MARK SANCHEZ
    (DAVID BUEHLER KICK)
    NOTRE DAME 3
    USC (5) 38 7:57 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Notre Dame 3, USC(5) 38  4th - 7:57Nov 29 10:43 PM


  • NCAAF
    FG NOTRE DAME
    BRANDON WALKER 41 YD
    NOTRE DAME 3
    USC (5) 31 11:45 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Notre Dame 3, USC(5) 31  4th - 11:45Nov 29 10:30 PM


  • NCAAF END, 3RD QTR
    1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    NOTRE DAME 0 0 0 0
    USC (5) 7 17 7 31 END, 3RD QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: USC - TD, STAFON JOHNSON RECOVERED
    BLOCKED PUNT IN END ZONE
    (DAVID BUEHLER KICK), 10:54.
    USC 7-0
    2ND QUARTER: USC - TD, JOE MCKNIGHT 55 YD RUN (DAVID
    BUEHLER KICK), 5:55. USC

    Nov 29 10:20 PM
  • 25
    roots
    #1 Cards Fan Added 10 roots

    Notre Dame 0, USC(5) 31  3rd - 2:50Nov 29 10:16 PM


  • NCAAF
    TD USC
    C.J. GABLE 1 YD RUN
    (DAVID BUEHLER KICK)
    NOTRE DAME 0
    USC (5) 31 5:03 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Notre Dame 0, USC(5) 31  3rd - 5:03Nov 29 10:10 PM
  • 15
    roots
    Silversword55 Added 5 roots

    Notre Dame 0, USC(5) 24  3rd - 7:40Nov 29 10:04 PM


  • NCAAF HALFTIME
    1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    NOTRE DAME 0 0 0
    USC (5) 7 17 24 HALFTIME
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: USC - TD, STAFON JOHNSON RECOVERED
    BLOCKED PUNT IN END ZONE
    (DAVID BUEHLER KICK), 10:54.
    USC 7-0
    2ND QUARTER: USC - TD, JOE MCKNIGHT 55 YD RUN (DAVID
    BUEHLER KICK), 5:55. USC 14-0
    USC

    Nov 29 9:22 PM


  • NCAAF
    FG USC
    DAVID BUEHLER 35 YD
    NOTRE DAME 0
    USC (5) 24 0:24 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Notre Dame 0, USC(5) 24  2nd - 0:24Nov 29 9:19 PM


  • NCAAF
    TD USC
    DAMIAN WILLIAMS 12 YD PASS FROM MARK SANCHEZ
    (DAVID BUEHLER KICK)
    NOTRE DAME 0
    USC (5) 21 4:38 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Notre Dame 0, USC(5) 21  2nd - 4:38Nov 29 9:03 PM


  • NCAAF
    TD USC
    JOE MCKNIGHT 55 YD RUN
    (DAVID BUEHLER KICK)
    NOTRE DAME 0
    USC (5) 14 9:05 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Notre Dame 0, USC(5) 14  2nd - 9:05Nov 29 8:51 PM


  • NCAAF END, 1ST QTR
    1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    NOTRE DAME 0 0
    USC (5) 7 7 END, 1ST QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: USC - TD, STAFON JOHNSON RECOVERED
    BLOCKED PUNT IN END ZONE
    (DAVID BUEHLER KICK), 10:54.
    USC 7-0

    Nov 29 8:35 PM


  • NCAAF
    TD USC
    STAFON JOHNSON RECOVERED BLOCKED PUNT IN END ZONE
    (DAVID BUEHLER KICK)
    NOTRE DAME 0
    USC (5) 7 4:06 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Notre Dame 0, USC(5) 7  1st - 4:06Nov 29 8:22 PM
  • 10
    roots
    GREGnKY Added 5 roots

    Notre Dame vs. USC(5)Nov 29 9:35 AM
  • 5
    roots
    TyroneSizzle Added 5 roots

    Notre Dame vs. USC(5)Nov 29 8:12 AM