South Bend, IN- The fans stormed the field after Norte Dame quarterback Sam Hartman (10) took the last knee in victory formation to secure the Fighting Irish a 48-20 victory. This victory makes 5 straight in row in South Bend. The USC Trojans haven’t won here since October 22, 2011.
Turnovers were a big part of Norte Dame success tonight with three interceptions and two fumbles that all resulted into points on the scoreboard. Safety Xavier Watts (0) intercepted USC quarterback Caleb Williams twice. Watts first one set the tone for the night giving them great field positions to take 7-0 lead and never looked back.
Williams was under pressure most of the night which forced him to try and do too much to will his team to points. He threw for 199 yards on 23/37 three interception and one touchdown. The offense just couldn’t get things going in the air or the ground.
“There wasn’t one positive group offensively that was good enough tonight,” said coach USC Lincoln Riley, “We gotta play cleaner, we gotta coach better, we gotta play better, all three sides.”
The Irish defense kept finding a way to get off the field. There defensive front held USC to 103 yards rushing. They sacked quarterback 6 times and countless number of hurries. There leading tackler was JD Bertrand (27) with 6 solo and 2 assist. The game MVP was Watts (0) hands down who also had 6 tackles to go with two interceptions.
“Be aggressive,” Freeman said of the defensive front’s approach. “Roll guys, we want to roll guys. I told [defensive line coach Al] Washington, when you see [USC] sub, we need to roll our guys, get some fresh guys in there. We have to have relentless rushers against Caleb Williams, and we were able to do that, and it was a whole group of guys that were able to really get pressure on him.”
Just when USC managed to have a good drive in the 4th quarter and pull within 11 points, Norte Dame answered with a Jadarian Price 99 yards kickoff return. That put all USC hopes to rest.
The Irish were ready to play in all phases of the game.
“In careers when you play for a while and want to play for a while, plays happen like that. Like coach said, you gotta get through, you gotta keep fighting, you gotta be a leader. It starts with the head of the snake and I’ll be better.”
USC now moves to a 6-1 record and will host Utah back at the Coliseum on Saturday Oct 21 at 5pm. Norte Dame now 6-2 will host Pittsburgh on Saturday Oct 28 after enjoying a bye week to rest up.