The long nightmare that was Notre Dame's losing streak against USC came to a merciful end tonight as the Fighting Irish pulled out a hard-fought win in the rain in Los Angeles, 20-16.
On the surface, it didn't look the Irish had any business winning this game, as quarterback Tommy Rees turned the ball over four times, three on interceptions and one on a fumble that USC cashed in for a TD.
Notre Dame led 13-3 at halftime, but a missed extra point on their first TD looked like it might come back to haunt them, as USC came back in the third quarter to tie the game.
USC grabbed the lead in the fourth 16-13 with about 6 minutes to play, but the Irish got the ball back and drove down the field, with impressive runs by Cierre Wood and Robert Hughes. Hughes scored the winning TD on a five-yard run with just over two minutes left.
USC got the ball and had a nice drive down the field. It looked like they were going to get lead back when QB Matt Mustain threw what looked like a TD pass to a wide open Ronald Johnson, who didn't have a defender near him around the ten yard line, but dropped it. A few plays later, Mustain threw an ill-advised pass that was picked off at the goal line by Harrison Smith. ND ran the clock out and got their first win over USC since 2001.
Once again, ND's defense looked superb, allowing just the first TD in the last 13 quarters, the longest streak by an Irish defense since 1980.
Notre Dame ends the regular season at 7-5, with three impressive wins at the end of the schedule. They are bowl-eligible and will play in either the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando or the Las Vegas Bowl.