Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2012

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

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national title game berth with a 22-13 win over rival USC No. 1 Notre Dame clinches HEADED TO MIAMI! H BY DAN MURPHY to its strengths, run- ning for 222 yards (126 in the second half) and winning the turnover battle (2-0). A stingy Irish defense sealed the final step, again, with a punched its ticket to Miami with a typically gritty 22-13 win in the Los Angeles Coliseum on the final Saturday in November. The victory was sprinkled with the shades of a season that began in Dublin 5,174 miles to the east when the chances of playing for a crystal ball seemed just as far away. Notre Dame played No. 1 Notre Dame oly Holtz, the Irish are back in the national championship! heroic goal-line stand — a globetrotting journey melted down to a few final inches. "If you followed us at all this year, that's how we play," head coach Brian Kelly said. "We come up big defensively at some time during the game. We did that again." With five minutes left and the score 22-13 in the last chance for a Notre Dame opponent to end its unlikely undefeated run, USC got off to a good start. Sophomore superstar Marqise Lee returned a kickoff nearly to midfield. On the next play, he slipped behind the Irish secondary and pulled in a 53-yard pass two yards from the end zone. The Trojans lined up for seven more plays, but came away empty handed in a strong clos- ing argument by the Notre Dame defense. The Trojans went backwards on three at- tempts to push their way past the Irish, and then failed to complete a play-action pass on fourth down. From there, a vocal contin- gent of Notre Dame fans counted down the sec- onds to their first trip to a title game in the Bowl Championship Series era that began in 1998. "You have to make plays in those situa- tions," USC head coach Lane Kiffin said. "You are not going to beat the No. 1 team in the nation kicking field goals in- stead of getting touch- downs." That, apparently, is

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