It was the 91st time that the Irish faced the Trojans, and luckily for Notre Dame football players and fans, the rivalry game took place in South Bend this year. The Irish looked to maintain the win streak against the Trojans and the prized Jeweled Shillelagh. The weather during the game was nothing like what it would typically be like in southern California, but the Trojans still brought their A-game and gave Notre Dame all they could handle.
The game started off with both teams exchanging punts on their first two drives. Scoreless during the first quarter, the Irish offense struggled to move the ball against the athletic Trojan defense. Afterwards, the Irish defense conceded a field goal late in the first quarter after an eight-play drive led by quarterback Kedon Slovis.
The Irish were determined to not allow this initial lead by the Trojans to remain unanswered. Turning to a no-huddle offense, Notre Dame scored a touchdown early on during the second quarter.
During the Irish’s next offensive drive, sophomore wide receiver Braden Lenzy ran 51 yards on an end-around, scoring his first career rushing touchdown. On the final offensive drive before halftime, sophomore kicker Jonathan Doerer nailed a 45-yard field goal to put the Irish up by 14.
Towards the beginning of the third quarter, Doerer managed to score another long field goal (52 yards), adding to the Notre Dame lead. Afterwards, the Trojans responded to the relatively massive lead by the Irish by scoring a field goal. Although they made it past the red zone and were on track to score their first touchdown, the Irish defense stood strong and prevented them from doing so.
Nevertheless, the Trojans scored their first touchdown on their next drive. Nearing the end of the third quarter, the Irish lead had dwindled to just seven points at 20-13.
The Irish responded with another long field goal by Doerer towards the beginning of the fourth quarter. With less than 14 minutes remaining in the game and a season-defining win on the line, USC added another touchdown that put all the pressure back on the Irish, now only leading by three.
The Irish stuck to the running game on the following drive, leading to an 8-yard Ian Book touchdown run to put the Irish back up by 10 at 30-20. The Trojans, however, were not done challenging the Irish, and they successfully scored another touchdown with a little more than a minute remaining in the game. They then strategically attempted an onside kick, but Irish tight end Brock Wright successfully recovered the kick, securing another victory for the Irish over the Trojans.
Overall, the atmosphere of the game was exciting and intense for Notre Dame and USC fans alike. Despite a scuffle between the two teams before the first half ended, the game was close and well-fought.
At the end of the day, the Jeweled Shillelagh was once again safely stored at Notre Dame, and the Irish are hoping to keep the win streak next year, when the Irish and Trojans will renew the rivalry at USC’s Memorial Coliseum to end the 2020 regular season.