Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 30, 2017

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

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Page 20 of 55 OCT. 30, 2017 21 BY LOU SOMOGYI S uddenly, it felt like 1977 again. Back in town to commemo‑ rate the 40th anniversary of their national title that was propelled by the famous 49‑19 vic‑ tory over No. 5 USC in The Green Jersey Game, the 1977 team saw the 2017 version trounce the No. 11 Tro‑ jans (6‑2) by a similar 49‑14 margin. "We made them aware of the his‑ tory and tradition of it," Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said of the significance of the series with archri‑ val USC. "We actually spent a little bit more time on how important this game was. But never did we take away from our preparation and how important that is." Now 6‑1 and on the cusp of a top‑10 ranking and title contention of their own, the Fighting Irish have take on a mindset of dominance. "I wrote on my card tonight in my locker room — if we didn't win re‑ ally big, I would be disappointed," Kelly said. "And I did that because I would then re‑evaluate some of the things that maybe we did relative to our preparation. "What I was really pleased with was the mental performance of this football team. … They were around the sideline, saying: 'Coach, we don't want to come out of the game.' That was as good as I've seen not just here, but anywhere I've been as it relates to their mental preparation and how they handled themselves in the game." For the fourth time this year in only seven games, Notre Dame had two players eclipse 100 rushing yards in a contest: junior running back Josh Adams totaled 191 yards on 19 car‑ ries and scored three touchdowns, while junior quarterback Brandon Wimbush added 14 carries for 106 yards and two scores. In the 15 previ‑ ous seasons from 2002‑16, two Irish players rushing for at least 100 yards in the same game occurred only five times. Wimbush also tossed 26‑ and 23‑ yard touchdown passes to junior Equanimeous St. Brown and sopho‑ more Kevin Stepherson, respectively, in the first quarter. Notre Dame outgained USC 497‑336 — notably 377‑76 on the ground. "I challenged our football team," Kelly stated. "I said, 'Look, we're go‑ ing to stick with our process. Our preparation has been great, but this game will be won by who's more physical … I think we know who the more physical football team was." Three first‑half USC turnovers helped set up 21 Notre Dame points that led to building a 28‑0 cushion at halftime. The Irish had no turnovers in the game. FIRST QUARTER: NOTRE DAME 14, USC 0 Top Moment: On USC's first play from scrimmage at the Notre Dame 43‑yard line, quarterback Sam Dar‑ nold bobbled the snap and then was sacked and stripped of the football by junior linebacker Te'von Coney, who also recovered the fumble. Three plays later, Wimbush connected with St. Brown on a 26‑yard touchdown at the 12:45 mark. Top Performer: Stepherson, side‑ lined the first four games this year for an off‑the‑field disciplinary mat‑ ter, and having taken only 23 snaps total in the next two games, snared a 23‑yard touchdown on a back shoul‑ der toss that was a difficult catch, and also had runs of 13 and 11 yards off the jet sweep. On defense, in addition to his strip sack, Coney had four other tackles during the quarter, including a sec‑ ond for lost yardage. Stats: Notre Dame outgained USC 141‑80 in total offense. The Irish out‑ rushed the Trojans 92‑7. Items: Wimbush's only two pass completions (on six attempts) were the two touchdowns. Seven of Notre Dame's first 11 running plays netted at least 10 yards. USC didn't pick up its initial first down until 2:16 left, but had driven to Notre Dame's 7‑yard line by the time the quarter ended. SECOND QUARTER: NOTRE DAME 28, USC 0 Top Moment: A 33‑yard pooch punt by Notre Dame senior Tyler Newsome was fumbled at the 9‑yard line by USC's Jack Jones and recov‑ ered by Irish senior rover Drue Tran‑ quill. Adams then tallied from three yards on third‑and‑goal to extend the Irish advantage to 21‑0 with 7:43 left. Top Performer: The Notre Dame defense held the Trojans to 23 yards of total offense in the second quar‑ ter. USC's 103 yards of total offense in the first half included minus‑four yards on the ground. Stats: USC had three first‑half turnovers that resulted in 21 Notre Dame points. The Irish had no turn‑ overs and amassed 262 yards of total offense, 190 rushing and 72 passing. Items: At the 13:25 mark, USC freshman kicker Chase McGrath missed a 27‑yard field goal to keep the score at 14‑0. Irish senior cornerback Nick Wat‑ kins intercepted a Darnold pass at 7:02 and returned it 14 yards to the Notre Dame 41. The ensuing 59‑yard touchdown drive culminated with Wimbush rushing for a four‑yard score on third‑and‑goal to make it 28‑0 with 3:54 remaining. THIRD QUARTER: NOTRE DAME 42, USC 14 Top Moment: With 3:07 left, Ad‑ ams romped for an 84‑yard touch‑ down to put the Irish ahead 42‑14. Top Performer: Adams' run was the seventh time this year he broke free on a rush of at least 59 yards. No other Irish player has had more than five runs of 50 yards in a season (Reggie Brooks in 1992). For USC, Darnold completed 9 of 11 passes for 122 yards with two scores in the quarter, and added four carries for 16 yards. Stats: Through three quarters, Notre Dame's 55 plays netted 426 yards, highlighted by 341 rushing yards on 38 carries. USC's 52 plays totaled 285 yards, with 234 coming through the air. Items: USC opened the second half with a 77‑yard touchdown march SPIRIT OF '77 Notre Dame dominates from start to finish in 49-14 rout of No. 11 USC Junior running back Josh Adams' 191-yard, three- touchdown performance propelled an Irish attack that racked up 377 yards on the ground against the Trojans. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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