USC vs. Notre Dame
November 26, 2016 at 12:42pm
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA: 72,402 (93,607)
Total Time: 3 hours 39 minutes
The legendary intersectional rivalry notched another in the series. Like usual, the Trojans and Fighting Irish play following Thanksgiving every even year. And it was raining, just like 6 years ago when Notre Dame ended an 8-game losing streak to USC off the uncharacteristic drop suffered by RoJo. A different RoJo took the field on Saturday and his Trojan team delivered a different result.
A Notre Dame team entered the game with an unappealing 4-7 record. However, every single one of their seven losses had been by one possession (8 points or less). I’m not trying to tell you that they should’ve entered at 11-0 or excusing them for their losses. All I’m saying is that they’re probably a bit better than their record would indicate. Then USC proceeded to beat them by three possessions even after the Irishs’ garbage time touchdown.
The win painted a perfect backdrop for the annual senior day on an otherwise rare rainy LA day (sarcastically referred to as “perfect football weather” by more than a few Trojan fans). Most of us were expecting it, but not during the first quarter. The ACC officials present at the game seemed intent to aid the ill-weather in every way possible by dragging the game out. In the end, I’m not sure if the fans cheered louder when the sun peeked out over the horizon or for Adoree’ Jackson’s multitude of touchdowns. Just kidding, we know what got the louder cheer. Not everything was exciting fun and games though. The beginning of the game looked quite sloppy.
After a quick field goal by USC to start, the Fighting Irish caught a safety out of position and ran for 74 yards. Adoree’ Jackson managed chase him out-of-bounds short of the score remnisicent of his performance against Alabama. RoJo answered a few minutes later with a 51-yard touchdown run to get to the score to 10-7.
The next quarter and half was basically a soccer match. Seven punts and missed field goal with four possessions apiece. Then the excitement built up over!!…questionable reffing decisions….
I’m not even sure what they called on DeShone Kizer’s lateral fumble. I was at the stadium and didn’t hear jack squat. I rewatched the broadcast and still can’t tell why they decided to call it dead at the ND 8-yard line.
- Was it an incomplete pass? We would’ve heard a whistle and it’d be 2nd-and-10 instead of 2nd-and-23.
- Was it an intentional ground? Sure that’d get the 2nd-and-23 with loss of down at the spot of the foul, but the running back was right there and got his hands on it boefre it fell to the ground.
- Foward progress stopped? Again, why no whistle? On the very next play, the whistle can be heard quite clearly.
Then two plays later, they cancel out a safety just because the official felt like he wasn’t backed up far enough when that kind of thing happens all the time. He was an adequate distance away and had already turned around to face the play.
In the second half, I thought I had an onset of Déjà vu when the refs blew a fumble dead as an incomplete pass, nullifying the touchdown return by Jack Jones. Why not just let him complete the return and review it after that? Instead they make the strange decision to whistle it dead after Jones has run 10-15 yards down the field. At least they got the turnover part fixed on the review. Great play by Ajene Harris and Jack Jones though to give it a chance to happen at all. Harris had to fight through two blockers to make that tip and Jones had the awareness and skill to grab that instantly in middle of his stride.
The last of the egregiously bad calls was during the nasty 28 on 28 hit. Aca’cedric Ware took a helmet shot from ND safety, Nicco Fertitta. Instead of calling the obvious targeting penalty and ejecting Fertitta, they call it a fumble by Ware. Oh, okay, fumbles are a thing now? After a review, they still think it’s a fumble with no targeting. It took them a second review before disqualifying Fertitta and reversing the fumble. Only took two reviews and 10 minutes guys. It took them two tries to flag Jerry Tillery for personal fouls too.
Wish you the best Ron Cherry, but your crew really didn’t do that well this game. That official team dragged it out to be the longest of the season—longest of two season actually. The last time a USC football game took that long was the 2014 Holiday Bowl against Nebraska going nearly 4 hours (3:55). That being said, get well soon Cherry, because your job performance doesn’t make you deserving of a concussion.
Some penalties were deserved though. USC got penalized for roughing the kicker, turning a three-and-out into a first down. USC lucked out with ND missing the field goal. It wasn’t a block though, so no free Chick-Fil-A. Sad times. You tried to give us free chicken Pittman, but it didn’t work. Next time, please don’t give them free possessions with penalties.These kinds of things could’ve been a big deal if the game was closer. The penalties weren’t their only problem.
It’s hard to imagine a game this season where Sam Darnold didn’t get the spotlight. He had a relatively pedestrian game, suffering inaccurate passes in the rain. The bright side is that he didn’t produce any turnovers.
Unfortunately, the star of the game ended up being the one to turn it over. Adoree’ fumbled it on a punt return, making it emotionally painful since it was the start of a possession change. Much like the roughing the kicker penalty, it was after a three-and-out.
Can’t be too harsh on Adoree’ when he scored as much as the entire ND team by the end of the third quarter. All three of his touchdowns spanned over 50 yards:
- A 55-yard punt return, showing that they don’t need no stinking 2 point safety. He’ll take 6, thank you.
- A 52-yard reception because he wanted to make Darnold look good too.
- A 97-yard kickoff return that might’ve been the backbreaker for Notre Dame. It featured a high jump (I thought he was trying to qualify for long jump?) and a key block by Isaac Whitney for Adoree’ to take it to the house. As a bonus, kicker Matt Boermeester had a monster tackle on the ensuing kickoff earning the cheers of his teammates.
Adoree’ is the MVP of the game, no dispute.
One more good thing:
- Ajene Harris’ pick six 17 seconds after Adoree’ Jackson’s punt return TD. In 17 seconds, USC went from a 3-point lead to a 17-point lead. Not a bad way to end the half. Reminds me of the Arizona State game in 2015.
The regular season has ended with USC at 9-3 (7-2 in Pac-12). Utah’s loss cemented Colorado’s place as Pac-12 South champion, meaning USC just has to sit and wait for a bowl bid now. Not the worst thing in the world since USC can still get a NY6 bowl bid like the Cotton Bowl or even the Rose Bowl (if Washington is selected for the playoff and the Rose Bowl Committee selects USC over Colorado). Personally, I’d rather have the Rose Bowl for so many reasons.
- Joey Kaufman over at the OC Register, among others, have pointed out that, “Since 1929, the Trojans have appeared in the Rose Bowl during the term of every U.S. President except Barack Obama.” It would be mighty great for them to sneak one in at the twilight of Obama’s second term.
- It would also continue USC’s streak of at least one Rose Bowl in every decade since 1920. They have yet to get one in the 2010s.
- It’s also easier to travel to than the Cotton Bowl game (which isn’t at the Cotton Bowl anymore). Guess where it is now. AT&T Stadium. As cool as that place is, I’d rather use my money to see new locations
Good Stat of the Week: USC has won eight streak games.The Trojans have not lost at home this season and extends their home winning streak to nine, spanning over the 2015 and 2016 season.
Ultimate Misleading Stat of the Week: Notre Dame has won ZERO conference championships, meaning USC has about 38 more than them.
Hard to win conference championships when you’re not in a conference. Notre Dame has always been independent, though they do have one foot in the ACC at this point.
Edit: How could I forget? USC completed a no loss November for the first time since 2011!!