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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame - USC Running Diary

November 26, 2022
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Good evening from the Los Angeles Coliseum. It’s about time for kickoff between the #6 USC Trojans and the #15 Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Being in the stadium for this one has a special significance as this marks the 30th anniversary of my first Notre Dame vs USC contest, the 1992 clash, also known as the “Reggie Brooks Flu Game.” 

The current temperature is 71 degrees, though it’ll dip into the lower 60’s by kickoff. Slightly different than last week. Can Marcus Freeman get his boys ready to beat a ranked USC for the first time since I stepped foot in the Coliseum 30 years ago? Follow along to find out. 

Pre-game #1- Is this a safe space? I think it’s a safe space. Watching Caleb Williams warmup is an inspiring event. He’s got quite a repertoire of skills he’s working with. And it just became official that Cam Hart will miss the game with a shoulder injury. Confidence is wavering. 

Pre-game #2- To be completely honest, I thought there would be more people. 

Pre-game #3- The whole “light out” thing doesn’t pop when sunset isn’t for another hour.

Pre-game #4- Notre Dame wins the toss and defers to the second half. Let’s get it. 

First quarter, 10:36 - It’s an obvious thing to say, but that USC drive was incredibly easy for a quick 7-0 lead. It makes sense it may take the Irish a little bit to get used to the speed and variations USC is going to play with, not to mention the improvisations. If it doesn’t get figured out quickly, this could go the wrong way fast. 

First quarter, 8:20 - Notre Dame goes unbalanced line on 3rd and 3 and runs wide with Logan Diggs out of an H back role. Running wide on a smaller team is certainly a choice, and Notre Dame lost four. Three and out, heading for a nightmare start. 

First quarter, 7:36 - Big swing here, Foskey forces a fumble on a long Jordan Addison catch, it looks like Notre Dame recovers, but is overturned on replay. USC in business just outside the red zone. 

First quarter, 4:57 - It looks like TaRiq Bracy will also be out for Notre Dame in this one. The loss of Hart and Bracy is a killer against this USC team. 

First quarter, 3:29 - Notre Dame forces a USC field goal after the Trojans were on the brink inside the five yard line. The big story is the lack of two of Notre Dame’s best corners against one of the best passing teams in the nation. Foskey came up with a big sack to really ruin the drive, but the Irish will need much better secondary play to have any chance. 

End of first quarter - Notre Dame gets it going on their second drive as the first quarter ends. Drew Pyne (at long last) hit a check down to Audric Estime for 30 yards and Estime ended the first quarter with a second and five at the USC 31. Coming away with points here is a must for Notre Dame, preferably the seven variety. 

13:52, second quarter - The Irish insist on dropping straight back on third downs, this time resulting in a near Pyne sack, a gift throw forward of Pyne, and a failed fourth and one sneak by Mitchell Evans. Had to score points on the drive and they came up completely empty. No way that doesn’t hurt them later. 

11:07, second quarter - Notre Dame defense finding itself a bit upfront. Constant pressure on Williams ends a USC drive before it gets serious, although he was magical in escaping a huge sack and turning it into a 4th and 8 pooch punt. (USC really doesn’t want to send out the punt team.) 

9:50, second quarter - Notre Dame has 12 carries for 25 yards to this point. That’s not going to work in any game Notre Dame plays. 

7:38, second quarter - Deion Colzie third down crosser is basically a gimme at this point. Can’t be stopped. 

6:14, second quarter - Touchdown Michael Mayer on a play action pass jump ball that he comes down with. Pyne made that drive happen with a huge third down crossing route to Deion Colzie. Notre Dame a stop away from having a chance to capitalize on the end of half, start the half with the ball situation. 

0:34, second quarter - The stop did not happen. Caleb Williams did some improv stuff, holding isn’t on the table for Notre Dame, and USC gets a killer touchdown before the half ends. Notre Dame receives the second half kick in what feels like a must-score situation.

11:38, third quarter - USC’s magical turnover season continues. Notre Dame is moving the ball nicely and Drew Pyne fumbles the ball with no one around him, recovered by USC. The Trojans then carve through a shell-shocked Notre Dame defense into the end zone, going up three scores and putting the Irish in big trouble at 24-7. 

5:54, third quarter - Notre Dame has moved the ball this entire second half, minus dropping the ball with no one around. Pyne finds Colzie deep in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. Colzie is one of the brightest spots to close this season, along with Xavier Watts on defense. The heart is still beating. 24-14 USC. 

Start of fourth quarter - Caleb Williams is simply killing Notre Dame with his improvisation plays. He leads another scoring drive and it’s 31-14 and let’s hope Notre Dame can just keep it close. 

11:29, fourth quarter - Drew Pyne is on a massive heater. He’s 17-18 for 237 yards and two touchdowns. He’s keeping the Irish hanging around, and Logan Diggs scores from five yards out to go down 31-21 in the fourth quarter. 

8:02, fourth quarter - Very little rotation at linebacker in this game, to go along with Notre Dame being without TaRiq Bracy and Cam Hart. Very tough ask of the Notre Dame defense. 

4:56, fourth quarter - Welp, that’ll do it. Drew Pyne throws the ball late and across his body, and it’s intercepted. He’s been brilliant in this game, but that was a mistake. Notre Dame was really up against it to end this game anyway, and that’ll put any end to thoughts of a Notre Dame comeback. 

2:35, fourth quarter-  Caleb Williams runs it in to make it 38-21, putting a cap on what is likely going to be a Heisman-winning season for him. I hate it. 

1:02, fourth quarter - Drew Pyne continues to play his best football, finding Deion Colzie on a deep crosser on second and long, and then Michael Mayer over the middle for his second touchdown of the game. And speaking of cappers, it’s very likely Michael Mayer ends his Notre Dame career with a touchdown catch, a fitting end to a Notre Dame legend. What a career it’s been. 

Final, USC 38 - Notre Dame 27 

Notre Dame had to capitalize on all of their scoring opportunities and came up empty deep in USC territory on a 4th and 1 failed sneak, and a fumbled exchange on first and 10, again deep in USC territory. In a game where the final margin was 11, wasted trips could not happen. 

They also needed to keep the USC points down on their successful drives, and the Trojans were 6-6 in the red zone with five touchdowns. Absolutely could not have it. Being down two of their top corners against this team was surely too much to overcome and it put the defense in a bad spot. So it goes. 

The Irish will end the season 8-4, which would have been seen as a huge disappointment to start the year, but has to be deemed a pretty good job all things considered. Marcus Freeman’s team will have the bowl game to try and get it to nine wins, which likely can’t come soon enough for them. 

Thanks again for reading, hope you enjoyed it, although less fun than my original rendition. Till next time. 

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