Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2022

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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24 DECEMBER 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED TURNING POINT It could be argued that the turning point came when the coin was flipped and Notre Dame de- ferred possession to the second half. The Trojans dazzled and rattled the Fighting Irish with an 8-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that set the tone. It marked the first time the Irish trailed since it lost 16-14 to Stanford Oct. 15, and was also the first time they trailed for the entire second half of a game this season. Southern Cal extended its lead to 10-0 in the first quarter, then to 24-7, 31-14 and 38-21 in the second half. Behind junior quarterback Drew Pyne, Notre Dame never let the game get fully out of reach and answered all three of those 17-point deficits with touchdowns. However, the Irish never got the defensive stop necessary to pull an upset after falling behind so quickly in the first quarter. The closest the Irish came to a comeback was when it gained possession down 31-21 with 11:29 left in the game. But that drive stalled, and Notre Dame was never able to draw any closer than 10 points. STATS OF THE GAME The key to success for Notre Dame against Southern Cal was winning the time of possession and the rushing game categories. And the Irish were beaten badly in both. Behind 25 carries for 154 yards from senior tailback Austin Jones (a transfer from Stanford), Southern Cal tallied 204 yards rushing and 5.2 yards per carry with 4 rushing touchdowns, com- pared to Notre Dame's 90 yards rushing, 3.5 yards per carry and 1 score. Jones provided the bulk of the rushing produc- tion for Southern Cal while averaging 6.2 yards per carry. But Trojans sophomore quarterback Caleb Williams added a clutch performance with 9 rushing attempts for 35 yards 3 touchdowns, including a 16-yard score on a fourth-down play in the fourth quarter that gave Southern Cal its insurmountable 38-21 lead. Notre Dame lost the time of possession 35:23 to 24:37. The Trojans scored on all six of their red- zone possessions, with 5 touchdowns and 1 field goal. Notre Dame scored a rushing touchdown on its one trip inside the Southern Cal red zone. QUARTERBACK MATTERS Statistically speaking, the quarterback compari- son between Pyne and Williams looks relatively even, at least through the air. Pyne enjoyed arguably the best game of his career, connecting on 23 of 26 throws for 316 yards with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. He began the game with 15 straight completions. Williams was 18-of-22 passing for 232 yards with 1 touchdown and no interceptions. For the game Pyne finished with a 221.6 passer rating, better- ing Williams' 185.4 mark. But the rushing stats are what drastically sepa- rated these two players. Pyne recorded 5 rushes for 7 yards with no scores and was sacked twice. Williams, whose performance versus the Irish could give him the inside track to win the Heis- man Trophy, was also sacked twice but still man- aged 35 yards rushing with 3 touchdowns. The loss ended streaks for Notre Dame of 19 straight November wins and four consecutive victories over Southern Cal, which was the lon- gest winning streak in this series since the Trojans won eight straight from 2002-08. THREE OBSERVATIONS BY TODD D. BURLAGE QUARTERBACK DREW PYNE The junior put up a terrific stat line, completing 23 of 26 passes for 318 yards with 3 touchdowns. And while a lost fumble and a late interception dragged down the over- all worth of his game — perhaps unfairly — Notre Dame would've been lost without the many clutch plays Pyne made. DEFENSIVE END ISAIAH FOSKEY The senior was a menace for the Southern Cal offensive line throughout the game, especially in the first half, and finished the night with 5 total stops, 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Foskey extended his Irish career sack record to 26.5, and also forced a fumble in the first half. TIGHT END MICHAEL MAYER The junior All-American led all receivers with 8 catches for 98 yards and 2 touchdowns. Even while working against double-, triple- and sometimes even quadruple-team cover- age, Mayer made clutch catches on third downs and in goal- line situations. His performance was a terrific closing act to his Mackey Award candidacy as the nation's best tight end. WIDE RECEIVER DEION COLZIE The sophomore continued his ascent as a rising star with 3 catches for 75 yards, which included a 23-yard touchdown — the first of his career — with a long reception of 30 yards. Colzie's 3 receptions tied his career high and the 75 yards was his personal best. DEFENSIVE LINEMAN JAYSON ADEMILOLA On a night the Irish struggled to keep Southern Cal from making big plays, the graduate student did his part with 5 tackles, including 2 for loss and 0.5 sacks. Those numbers do not account for the disruption Ademilola provided that al- lowed other Irish defensemen to make stops on a night Notre Dame recorded 8 tackles for loss. GAME BALLS BY TODD D. BURLAGE Junior tight end Michael Mayer hauled in game-high 8 receptions for 98 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Trojans. PHOTO BY MEG OLIPHANT

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