No. 21 Notre Dame shines on defense, dominates No. 10 USC 48-20 (2024)

Last Updated 1:05 PM, October 15, 2023

Declan Walsh

The most successful walk-ons in recent college football history

1:54

2:40 am, October 15, 2023

๐Ÿ… Celtic Tiger: Notre Dame defense roars in blowout win over No. 10 USC

Reeling from a 1-2 stretch where the Irish had averaged just 16 points per game, it was hard to imagine them stepping into Notre Dame Stadium Saturday and pulling away from anyone in the first half, much less No. 10 USC and reigning Heisman winner Caleb Williams.

So fittingly, it was the Notre Dame defense that delivered an early knockout blow by snagging three interceptions in just the first half โ€” the first two were taken for big gains inside the 15-yard line by safety Xavier Watts. Audric Estime tilled the short fields generated the opportunistic Irish defense, โ€” the median Irish scoring drive in the opening half was just 27 yards โ€” scoring a pair of short touchdowns to help build an ultimately insurmountable 24-6 halftime lead.

The Irish went blow-for-blow with USC in the second half, answering a pair of USC touchdowns with a 46-yard bomb to Chris Tyree and an electric kick return touchdown from Jadarian Price before kicking a chip-shot field goal to go up 41-20.

Watts landed one final twist of the knife late in the fourth quarter, scooping up a fumble and finally tumbling his way into the end zone for a defensive touchdown to cap the score at 48-20.

2:27 am, October 15, 2023

๐Ÿ’ฅ What a response: Irish special teams get revenge with kick return TD

After being exposed by Zachariah Branch and his winding, stop-and-start punt return inside the red zone, which led quickly to a USC touchdown, the Irish special teams unit exacted quick revenge on the ensuing kickoff.

Fielding the ball along his goal line, returner Jadarian Price surged behind his blockers to the 20-yard line before sharply cutting left, toasting the USC coverage team and outpacing the Trojan kicker for a 99-yard kick return touchdown.

AN ELECTRIC 99 YARD RETURN FOR @Jadarian15 #GoIrishโ˜˜๏ธ pic.twitter.com/GUVQOwWhJ4

โ€” Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) October 15, 2023

The Irish are now back up three scores, leading 31-13 with eight minutes remaining from South Bend.

2:00 am, October 15, 2023

๐Ÿ˜ฎโ€๐Ÿ’จ Too Tyreeasy: ND's Chris Tyree opens up USC defense for 46-yard TD grab

With Notre Dame's success in the turnover game, the Irish hardly had a chance to showcase Sam Hartman and the passing game in the first half โ€” the average Notre Dame scoring drive covered just 27 yards.

Taking the field after USC's first touchdown, however, Hartman and ND receiver Chris Tyree showed exactly what they could do in the open field. Facing a 2nd-and-10 near midfield, Tyree dusted his defender on a post route, gained a few feet of separation and raced the ball to the pylon after making an uncontested grab.

Sam Hartman hits Chris Tyree for the TD ๐Ÿ€

๐ŸŽฅ: @NBCSports pic.twitter.com/yIuKUmpwOT

โ€” The Sporting News (@sportingnews) October 15, 2023

Tyree's score restored Notre Dame's three-score advantage at 31-13, and the Irish remain up big heading into the fourth quarter.

1:49 am, October 15, 2023

๐Ÿš‚ Comeback train: MarShawn Lloyd gashes ND defense for 31-yard TD

With Caleb Williams' typical Play-Station accuracy escaping him in a three-interception first half, it was USC's underrated ground game that stepped up out of the locker room and pulled USC within two scores.

Entering Saturday averaging nearly eight yards a carry, MarShawn Lloyd struggled to impact the game through 30 minutes, fielding five carries for just 12 yards. But the diminutive Delawarean just needed a bit of space in the backfield to erase a forgettable opening half, taking an option pitch and speeding 31 yards past the Irish secondary for six.

MarShawn Lloyd for six! pic.twitter.com/QW4mR1G6hp

โ€” Ian Valentino (@NFLDraftStudy) October 15, 2023

USC now trails 24-13 and will look to continue chipping into their lofty halftime deficit.

1:05 am, October 15, 2023

๐Ÿ”„ Defense to offense: Notre Dame extends lead into halftime after forcing third INT

What is happening to Caleb Williams? Entering South Bend atop Heisman boards around the country and having thrown just one interception on the season, the USC gunslinger has already tossed three passes to lurking chrome-gold helmets.

Once again reeling from Notre Dame's pass rush, Williams rolled out left and missed his intended receiver short, allowing ND's Benjamin Morrison to make a leaping interception grab near midfield.

Caleb Williams ๐ŸŽฏ Benjamin Morrison

pic.twitter.com/u0kYCAP8Zz

โ€” PFF College (@PFF_College) October 15, 2023

Audric Estime continued to till the short fields supplied by Notre Dame's defense, fielding all three of Irish's snaps inside the red zone and muscling his way in for a one-yard TD score, his second of the game.

Notre Dame stretched its lead to 21 before USC nailed a 48-yard field goal just before halftime. 24-6 Irish

12:43 am, October 15, 2023

โ—๏ธ THAT MAN AGAIN: Xavier Watts completes second lengthy INT return to two-yard line

It's deja-vu all over again (and likely again and again in the mind of USC quarterback Caleb Williams). The famously interception-averse Williams faced another ferocious Fighting Irish pass rush, forcing another strained pass that deflected first off the paw of a ND lineman and into the arms of safety Xavier Watts.

His second interception of the afternoon turned into another lengthy gain, following his convoy of blockers all the way down to the USC two-yard line.

Caleb Williams has thrown 2 picks to the same player Xavier Watts

USC is down 17-3 ๐Ÿ‘€

pic.twitter.com/rdUL613qsY

โ€” The Cam & Tee Podcast (@TCTPodcast1) October 15, 2023

Notre Dame turned to its bellcow Audric Estime near the goal-line, and the talismanic tailback pushed the pile forward for six. 17-3 Irish with four minutes remaining before halftime.

12:17 am, October 15, 2023

๐Ÿฆต Kickin' butt: Notre Dame, USC trade field goals

USC and Notre Dame are excelling in the "bend, don't break" approach Saturday facing off against a pair of top 11 offenses in expected points added, or EPA.

After USC managed just a punt and an interception on its first two drives, the Trojans finally reached their familiar top gear, even overcoming an offensive pass interference penalty to drive inside the 10-yard line. However, Southern Cal receiver Michael Jackson III was wrapped up well behind the marker on 3rd-and-6, and kicker Denis Lynch would knock through a 25-yard chip-shot.

Special teams blessed Notre Dame with strong field position, returning the ensuing kickoff to the Irish 36, and ND gunslinger Sam Hartman's accuracy along with some Jordan Faison trickery set up a 36-yard field goal response.Notre Dame leads 10-3 midway through the second quarter.

11:57 pm, October 14, 2023

๐Ÿ’ก Electric Watts: Notre Dame safety Xavier Watts powers Irish to early lead

Lurking over the middle and eyeing down a rare back-footed misfire from USC quarterback Caleb Williams, Xavier Watts raced under the floating football, cut toward the left sideline and raced well inside the red zone to cap off an immense 38-yard return.

PLAY MAKER#GoIrishโ˜˜๏ธ pic.twitter.com/JBgFAuNhbZ

โ€” Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) October 14, 2023

Notre Dame QB Sam Hartman capped off the short-field drive with a four-yard toss to Gi'Bran Payne, and Watts continued his disruptive ways the next drive by hauling down dynamic USC wideout Tahj Washington short of the first-down marker on a crucial 3rd-and-8 try.

Irish lead 7-0 midway through the first quarter

11:44 pm, October 14, 2023

๐Ÿ‘€ Battle for Jeweled Shillelagh underway: USC kicks off to Notre Dame

The Jeweled Shillelagh is up for grabs for the 70th time, as Notre Dame fires the opening kickoff through the end zone to begin the game.

Follow along for updates, scores and insight from a thrilling Saturday night in South Bend.

7:19 pm, October 12, 2023

๐ŸŸค Mud fight: Notre Dame, USC prepare to battle each other and the elements Saturday

For both of these programs, the quarterback position demanded months of offseason attention and speculation. USC managed to keep ahold of 2022 Heisman winner Caleb Williams, who threw for over 4,500 yards and led the Trojans to their highest College Football Playoff ranking in program history, while Notre Dame plunged into the transfer portal and grabbed Sam Hartman, the ACC's all-time passing touchdown leader, from Wake Forest.

However, with the fiercest rivalry on both schedules just two days away, adverse weather conditions threaten to retrain the spotlights away from the Irish and Trojan gunslingers. Temperatures hovering around the mid-40s and projected gusts as high as 20 miles per hour accompany heavy rain in South Bend โ€” the USC coaching staff has been seeing spraying its punters with hoses as an adjustment to the unfamiliar conditions.

The quintessentially Midwest conditions expected Saturday might be seen by Notre Dame fans as a much-needed great equalizer, with the Trojans preserving an undefeated 6-0 start while the Irish have lost two of their last three games. Notre Dame's losses have been respectable setbacks, falling to Ohio State at home in devastating, last-second fashion and following up a ranked win at Duke with a thorough 33-20 loss to Louisville, but ND's once dynamic offense has regressed back into last seasons, averaging just 16 points in their last three games.

Even the mighty USC attack suffered from some uncharacteristic pitfalls in a triple-overtime scare against Arizona, with Williams only attempting 20 passes, but the conditions Saturday may just allow these two sputtering offenses to lean into surprising strengths and expose the weakest regions of the opposing defenses.

USC's rushing defense, currently ranked in the bottom half of FBS in expected yards added (EPA), must prepare for unenviable extra doses of Audric Estime, who has averaged 7.5 yards per carry at Notre Dame Stadium this season, and the rest of the Irish's high-powered rushing attack. Meanwhile, a twin flame has ignited in the backfield next to Willams, as MarShawn Lloyd has averaged 7.7 yards per carry on the season, leading the Trojans' third-ranked ground game (in EPA) against an Irish rushing defense that, while decent, pales in comparison to its second-ranked pass defense.

5:54 pm, October 12, 2023

๐Ÿ’Ž For the Jeweled Shillelagh: Breaking down the USC-Notre Dame rivalry

Only taking pause for the most life-altering events of the last century, USC and Notre Dame have taken to the gridiron every year since 1926 for control of the Jeweled Shillelagh, an Irish war hammer that is decorated with either a Trojan or a shamrock emblem following the annual fixture. Since Notre Dame's 13-12 victory to begin the series, the game has featured incredible drama, remarkable stretches of dominance and possibly the greatest collection of talent across a singular college matchup โ€” more than 1,000 NFL players and over 100 college and professional Hall-of-Famers have battled for the shillelagh.

Notre Dame leads the all time series 48-37-5, and the Trojans finally managed to snap a four-game losing skid with a 38-27 win at the Los Angeles Coliseum last season. Here's a look at the last ten matchups between Notre Dame and USC:

DATELOCATIONWINNERSCORE
November 24, 2012Los Angeles, Calif.#1 Notre Dame22โ€“13
October 19, 2013South Bend, Ind.Notre Dame14โ€“10
November 29, 2014Los Angeles, Calif.USC49โ€“14
October 17, 2015South Bend, Ind.#14 Notre Dame41โ€“31
November 26, 2016Los Angeles, Calif.#12 USC45โ€“27
October 21, 2017South Bend, Ind.#13 Notre Dame49โ€“14
November 24, 2018Los Angeles, Calif.#3 Notre Dame24โ€“17
October 12, 2019South Bend, Ind.#9 Notre Dame30โ€“27
October 23, 2021South Bend, Ind.#13 Notre Dame31โ€“16
November 26, 2022Los Angeles, Calif.#6 USC38โ€“27

6:13 pm, October 12, 2023

๐Ÿ‘€ Where they rank: Notre Dame and USC in AP Top 25

Notre Dame remains in the top 25 despite a week 6 loss to Louisville while USC hangs on to its top-10 status after surviving a three-overtime scare from Arizona. Check out how the entire top 25 shakes out below.

RANKSCHOOLPOINTSPREVRECORD
1Georgia (50)1,59916-0
2Michigan (11)1,48926-0
3Ohio State (1)1,40845-0
4Florida State (1)1,38955-0
5Oklahoma1,278126-0
6Penn State1,27365-0
7Washington1,23975-0
8Oregon1,15085-0
9Texas1,05235-1
10Southern Cal99996-0
11Alabama971115-1
12North Carolina894145-0
13Ole Miss748165-1
14Louisville731256-0
15Oregon State725155-1
16Utah567184-1
17Duke479194-1
18UCLA438NR4-1
19-TWashington State412134-1
19-TTennessee412224-1
21Notre Dame374105-2
22LSU321234-2
23Kansas103NR5-1
24Kentucky99205-1
25Miami (FL)74174-1

3:21 pm, October 12, 2023

๐Ÿ“บ How to watch: USC-Notre Dame renew historic rivalry

USC trades sunny Southern California for a cold, rainy Saturday evening in Indiana, all to renew one of the fiercest, most storied rivalries in college football. Here's how to watch all the action:

  • Date๐Ÿ—“๏ธ: Saturday, Oct. 14
  • Timeโฐ: 7:30p.m. ET
  • Location๐Ÿ“: South Bend, Ind.
  • TV๐Ÿ“บ:NBC
No. 21 Notre Dame shines on defense, dominates No. 10 USC 48-20 (2024)
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