Riding a four game win streak, and looking for their first win over a ranked opponent since 2015, the Fighting Irish faced off against the No. 9 ranked USC Trojans and came away not just with a win, but their largest margin win over a Top 20 opponent in twenty-five years.
The lights were shining bright at Notre Dame Stadium, and it took just two minutes for the Irish to exert their will on the Trojans, as Te’von Coney came up with a huge sack, forced fumble, and fumble recovery on USC’s first snap on offense. Things then went from bad to worse for the Trojans, as it took the Irish just three plays to find the end zone for their first of seven touchdowns in the game. The Irish continued to dominate the first half, taking a 28-0 lead into halftime, but the Trojans showed some signs of life in the second half, scoring touchdowns on back to back possessions. Unfortunately, for the Trojans, the Irish responded to each USC touchdown with one of their own; Josh Adams’ 84 yard touchdown run provided the knockout blow, but just for good measure, the Irish tacked on another Adams touchdown in the fourth quarter before the referees could blow the final whistle, and mercifully put the Trojans out of their misery.
Key Fighting Irish Plays
1st Quarter – Sam Darnold strip sacked by Te’von Coney; fumble recovered by Coney. Darnold mishandled the first snap of the game for the Trojans, but it’s the Irish pressure that blows the play up, and Coney gets to the quarterback for the sack, forced fumble, and fumble recovery trifecta.
1st Quarter – Brandon Wimbush 26 yard TD pass to Equanimeous St Brown. The Irish take advantage of the early turnover and take just three plays to reach the end zone for a 7-0 lead just minutes into the game.
1st Quarter – Brandon Wimbush 23 yard TD pass to Kevin Stepherson. The Irish take their third possession of the game 79 yards for the touchdown; the Irish go run heavy on this drive, running the ball eight times to just two passing attempts, and Wimbush’s second touchdown pass of the game is also just his second completion of the game.
2nd Quarter – Jack Jones fumble on the punt return; fumble recovered by Drue Tranquill. This would be Notre Dame’s third takeaway of the half, and as with the two previous takeaways, the Irish would capitalize on this one as well.
2nd Quarter – Brandon Wimbush 4 yard TD run. Following the Tranquill fumble recovery, Wimbush would lead the Irish on a 7 play 59 yard touchdown drive, capping off the drive with his first rushing touchdown of the game, and a 28-0 Irish lead that they’d take into halftime.
3rd Quarter – Josh Adams 84 yard TD run. USC scored on their first two drives to start the second half, but the Irish answered back each time, and Adams’ 84 yard touchdown run was an emphatic slamming of the door on USC’s meager comeback hopes, as the Irish would take a commanding 42-14 lead.
4th Quarter – Josh Adams 14 yard TD run. Adams only played one series in the fourth quarter, but he capped off his day, and the Irish scoring, with his third touchdown, and a 49-14 lead that the Irish would preserve for the win.
Top Fighting Irish Performers
Wimbush showed no rust from his missed time against North Carolina due to his ankle injury, as he helped the Irish build a 28-0 halftime lead, throwing for two touchdowns, and running one in himself, as well. Wimbush still struggled in the passing game, completing just 5 for 14 in the first half, but two of those first half completions were for touchdowns, and with a 28-0 lead at halftime, Wimbush would only throw five more passes in the third quarter (4 of 5) before heading to the sidelines with the game well in hand to start the fourth quarter. Before heading to the sidelines, Wimbush again showed off his ability to light up opposing defenses in the run game, rushing for 106 yards and 2 TDs on 15 carries to go along with his 120 passing yards and 2 TDs through the air.
It’s been a long time coming, but the Adams Heisman Hype-Train has finally left the station. Even before he ripped off an 84 yard TD run late in the third quarter, giving the Irish a 42-14 lead, Adams was punishing the Trojan defense with chunk runs of 10, 13, 15, and 21 yards, and you knew it was only a matter of time before he broke one for a long distance dash to the end zone. Adams would thoroughly break down the Trojan run defense, finishing the day with 191 yards on 19 carries and 3 TDs.
From his opening play sack, forced fumble, and fumble recovery, to the devastation body slam tackle he delivered on special teams, Coney’s presence on the field helped establish Notre Dame’s dominance on defense throughout the game. He led the Irish in total tackles with 11 (4 solo, 7 assisted) and had 2 TFL, and 1 QBH to go along with his 1 Sack, 1 FF, and 1 FR on the first defensive play of the game for the Irish.
He may have only had 2 tackles in the game, but when those two tackles are sacks, you can’t help but take notice; Kareem now has three sacks in the last two games.
Next Up: Notre Dame takes on No. 14 ranked North Carolina State at Notre Dame Stadium at 3:30 EST (12:30 PST)