#9 Notre Dame vs. USC
October 12, 2019 at 4:42pm
Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, IN: 77,622 (of 77,622)
Total Time: 3 hours 16 minutes
ZERO road wins. This Helton guy is almost like clockwork when it comes to the home-away dichotomy. But at least there were also zero turnovers! The referees almost errantly gifted one to Notre Dame by pointing in the wrong direction, but that doesn’t count.
Weird (read as “bad”) officiating led to some strange outcomes, like ND head coach Brian Kelly running 3 or 4 yards onto the field in his natural yelling form during the onside kick without any sort of penalty. He was still there after the play had started. Remember when Talanoa Hufanga jumped in celebration and landed onto the field after a play was over and was penalized? Seems fair.
Notre Dame Stadium also can’t seem to escape goal line controversies. After the officials decided to grant USC an extra down due to their own error, a running back was pushed into the endzone. Much like a mid-October South Bend game in 2005, the officials had to give USC an extra play after realizing Matt Leinart actually fumbled out-of-bounds. The following play was the famous (or infamous) Bush Push. Bush Push, meet the Stepp Step.
There was also talk of a bad roughing the passer call and some missed PIs. Yup, all that sucks, but it would have been a bigger deal if anyone still cared about Helton being able to do something with this season and his career at USC. The Trojans scored 8x as many points in the second half than in the first half. By golly, those Trojans will get them all in the third half.
GOOD: Slovis recovering from his poor BYU performance and showing better decision-making even against drop eight coverages.
GOOD: Perfect throw and catch from Slovis to Amon-Ra St. Brown to give USC its first touchdown of the game. And again when Slovis was hit as he threw to St. Brown late in the fourth quarter to set up a score.
GOOD: Tyler Vaughns making some tough catches to keep the first downs rolling.
GOOD: Markese Stepp racked up plenty of yards after contact and should probably be getting extra playtime/carries. On one play, he ran for an impressive 19 yards, 15 of which had half the Notre Dame team trying to tackle him.
BAD: Speaking of failed tackling, USC still had too many defenders sliding off Notre Dame players after making contact.
BAD: The bad tackling and failure to set the edge allow Notre Dame to amass a total of 308 yards rushing.
BAD: Other than field goals, the team continues to disappoint on special teams. The punts went a little further this time, but too many were sailing into the endzone.
GOOD(ish): Only 2 penalties for 20 yards, which includes the ridiculous 15-yard roughing the passer penalty. ND had declined several penalties, though, which isn’t reflected in that stat line. Still, impressive for the Trojans to get through a game—especially a sold out away game—without a false start penalty.
GOOD/BAD: There was some great cornerback play at times, but in the end, too many of them got injured to provide consistent coverage.
Halfway through the season, Helton sits at a perfect 3-3. Three home wins, three road losses. Does he realize that he shouldn’t be shooting for Thanos level goals?
A decent coach with this roster would likely be 5-1 or 6-0 and bowl eligible already, but 4-2 at worst. At that point, their only decent chance at losing is against Oregon. For Helton, I’m predicting losses against Oregon and ASU, with rough games against Colorado and Cal to limp to my originally predicted 8-5 ending.
Ridiculous Stat of the Week #1: Slovis has lost 27-30 after throwing two touchdown passes on the road against a non-conference team twice this season. Games are fixed!!
Ridiculous Stat of the Week #2: USC ranks 90th in red zone conversion rate (78.26%) compared to #1 Notre Dame’s 100%. Even more disappointing is USC’s touchdown percentage of 56.52% (for reference, ND has 85.36%). That means they score a touchdown about half the time they’re at 20 or less yards to go.
Uplifting Stat of the Week: Kedon Slovis still ranks 4th in the nation in completion percentage (75%)…still above Alabama’s Tua Tagovailova.