Live Blog: USC-Notre Dame

Today’s game kicks off at 5 p.m. on the West Coast.  All updates will be timestamped with game time. Be sure to check out our Twitter feed for instant info @dailytrojan

2:23 4th Quarter: 20-16 Notre Dame.

Touchdown Notre Dame. After Joe Houston’s field goal, the Irish march fairly uncontested 77 yards down the field in just 7 plays for the easy 5 yard touchdown run. The USC defense is collapsing at the wrong time, but then again it has had fourth quarter struggles this year. This sets the stage for Mustain to lead a comeback against Notre Dame in his 1st start. I’m going down to the field. Talk to you guys soon.

6:25 4th Quarter: 16-13 USC.

37-yard field goal by Joe Houston is good! In the extreme wetness, Houston splits the uprights as he easily makes the field goal to put USC ahead. What a good story on senior night for the struggling kicker.

Houston wouldn’t have gotten the chance if it weren’t for the defense, again. The Trojans’ defense continues to come up with big plays. This time it was Marshall Jones who picked off Rees (the ND QBs 3rd INT of the night) on a risky 20 yard pass down the middle. The Trojans took over on the Irish 38 yard line but couldn’t really mount much of a drive and let Houston kick the field goal.

Kiffin actually let Mustain loose a few times. The senior came up with a 34 yard pass down the middle to freshman Robert Woods as the ball traveled 32 yards in the air and Mustain missed Ronald Johnson on a 50-plus yard pass.

End of 3rd Quarter: 13-13.

It’s still pouring here in LA as neither team has done much since USC’s score to tie the game. The best chance was a surely pick-6 that Wright dropped as he successfully jumped the route. That came at a cost as he needed to be helped off the field.

Both teams have stuck to the run for the most part since the rain came down and neither has found success. C.J. Gable has gotten some carries for the Trojans as Bradford continues to sit on the bench. The next team to score will likely win the game. It seems bleak that both teams could score in this last quarter.

5:40 3rd Quarter: 13-13.

Touchdown USC! Mustain sneaks it in from 1-yard out to tie the game.

The touchdown wasn’t easy. Redshirt sophomore defensive end Nick Perry caused a sack-fumble and then recovered the ball, returning it eight yards to the ND 2-yard line, coming up with the big play USC needed. However, the offense needed all four plays to punch it in from that range, with Marc Tyler running three times before Mustain snuck it in.

The defense is bailing out Lane and the offense, as the only times USC has scored have come after takeaways from the Trojans’ defense. It’s pouring now in LA as we have a tie game. The slow offensive game just got slower on both sides of the ball.

10:54 3rd Quarter: 13-6 Notre Dame.

Field Goal USC! Joe Houston hits a 23 yard field goal to make it a one possession game.

Linebacker Devon Kennard put the Trojans in scoring territory, intercepting Rees on a 3rd down pass and returning it 8 yards to the Fighting Irish 21 yard line. USC was able to get one 1st down on many short runs but Mustain threw 2 incomplete passes and the Trojans had to settle for the field goal. All of USC’s points have come off of interceptions, and it seems like the defense or special teams units are going to have to make some big plays as the offense isn’t getting anywhere with this conservative play calling and Mustain’s mediocre play.

Halftime: 13-3 Notre Dame.

Touchdown Notre Dame (missed XP). The Irish put together two strong drives to end the half. After that 8 minute touchdown drive, they got the ball back with 44 seconds left on their 38 yard line and drove all the way (ASFF). They executed a nice 28-yard draw run and then a 17 yard pass to get them into scoring range quickly. With 10 seconds on the clock, no timeouts and the ball on the USC 1-yard line, the Irish went for it and Rees found Floyd on a short outroute next to the pylon for the score as cornerback Shareece Wright dove but couldn’t make a play on the ball.

Notre Dame got the ball thanks to a turnover on downs from the Trojans. USC started the post-ND (1st) touchdown drive nicely. Robert Woods returned the kickoff 38 yards to the USC 44 yard line and Mustain completed an 11-yard pass to Rhett Ellison. But the drive stalled there when Mustain threw a 5-yard pass and then Havili rushed twice for a net gain of 2 yards before Mustain threw a 5-yard pass into double coverage on 4th and 3 for the turnover on downs. USC’s play calling has been extremely conservative and Kiffin needs to let Mustain loose in the 2nd half to have a shot at winning.

Probably the most concerning aspect for USC however is that starting safety T.J. McDonald injured his right shoulder and won’t come back into the game. He’s on the sideline in street clothes and a sling. His backup, Tony Burnett, has played alright but USC just can’t replace their leading tackler.

2:39 2nd Quarter. 7-3 Notre Dame.

Touchdown Notre Dame. Quarterback Tommy Rees finally put together a solid drive for the Fighting Irish, capping it off with a 2-yard pass to Michael Floyd. After being pretty non-existent on the first few drives, Notre Dame’s best receiver and arguably best player, came alive on that drive, catching 5 passes for 34 yards and that touchdown. The drive lasted 16 plays for 79 yards and took up a monstrous 8:02 of clock time. The big play on that drive was a 22-yard completion on a misdirection play to TE Tyler Eifert that brought the Irish down to the 1-yard line. Nobody was on that 3rd of the field when Eifert made his catch. USC will now have to try and mount a good drive to end the half as ND gets the ball starting the 3rd quarter.

5:00 2nd Quarter: 3-0 USC.

Still not a whole lot happening on offense. The Trojans’ receivers aren’t helping out Mustain as they’ve dropped at least three balls. Mustain has been limited to throwing a lot of dinks and dunks and nothing really deep.

USC’s running game isn’t much better. The Trojans have just 42 rushing yards, led by March Tyler who had 9 carries for 32 yards. It appears senior Allen Bradford is still in Kiffin’s doghouse after fumbling five times on his last 12 or so touches.

On the other side of the ball, the defense has played really well. They’ve limited Notre Dame to just five 1st downs. However, sophomore  safety T.J. McDonald has left the game and is being treated in the lockerroom for an undisclosed injury. That’s not something USC can afford, as redshirt sophomore Tony Burnett (a walk on) is now in at safety. The Trojans are very thin in the secondary with multiple injuries.

End of 1st Quarter: 3-0 USC.

Not much has changed since the last update. Notre Dame managed to get its first 1st down of the night after an eight-yard pass and seven-yard run, but that’s all the Trojans’ defense gave the Fighting Irish. USC had 17 plays for 74 yards (39 passing) in the 1st quarter while the Fighting Irish only had 11 plays for 40 yards. The Trojans have the ball and are driving however. They start the 2nd quarter with 2nd and 4 on the ND 43 yard-line.

4:09 1st Quarter: 3-0 USC.

Field Goal USC. Joe Houston nails a 45-yard field goal. After struggling all year (he was 7-for-13 before that kick on the year) Kiffin gives Houston the green light on 4th and 7. The Trojans were poised to go for it on 4th and 2, but a false start penalty sent the Trojans back 5 yards and put Houston in the spotlight. The crowd erupted after that field goal.

However, it was all set up by a diving interception by linebacker Chris Galippo, who barely practiced all week after suffered a concussion in the game last week against Oregon State. The Trojans couldn’t get a first down after that pick and had to settle for a FG.

In fact, neither team got much going thus far on offense. The Trojans have had two possessions so far and Mustain has looked shaky. On the first drive, Mustain rolled out twice for passes – almost had one picked and then threw another one over his receiver’s head – but he did complete a 4-yard wide receiver screen.

The second drive was more promising, as he completed a 19-yard pass to fullback Stanley Havili over the middle and running back Marc Tyler had a big 11-yard run. However, the Trojans stalled just inside the Irish half of the field and had to punt. However, freshman running back Dillon Baxter, who just became reinstated this week, completed his first pass of the year out of the wildcat – a 4 yard screen to receiver Ronald Johnson.

The Trojans defense has looked great, holding ND to 2 three and outs and the diving interception by Galippo.

Pregame: Hey guys, Kenny Legan here and we’re just about ready for this USC-Notre Dame clash on Senior Night here in the Coliseum. Both teams are having struggling seasons as for the first time since 2001, both teams enter this game unranked. The big news for USC this week is that senior quarterback Mitch Mustain, who transfered from Arkansas after his freshman year when he was benched after an 8-0 start, will finally get his first start for USC as Matt Barkley is out with a high ankle sprain he suffered last week. Notre Dame is looking to make itself appealing to bowl committees but the Las Vegas Bowl is the only bowl at the Coliseum tonight to scout the Fighting Irish.