By Tim Peterson
(Los Angeles) – Caleb Williams ran for three touchdowns and threw for one more to lead USC to a 38-27 win over Notre Dame Saturday night before 72, 613 fans at the LA Memorial Coliseum.
The Trojans jumped out to a 10-0 first quarter lead and never relinquished the advantage. USC racked up 204 yards on the ground and 436 yards overall.
USC drove 75 yards on 8 plays on their opening possession. Caleb Williams hit Tahj Washington for an 11-yard touchdown pass to give the Trojans a 7-0 lead.
USC marched down into the red zone on its next possession but penalties stalled the drive. Dennis Lynch kicked a 31-yard field goal to make it 10-0
In the second quarter Notre Dame drove 80 yards on 9 plays. Drew Pyne connected with Michael Mayer in the endzone for a 22-yard touchdown with 6:14 left in the quarter to cut the Trojans lead to three.
USC answered with a 10-play, 75-yard drive with Williams finishing it with a 5-yard touchdown run with 34 seconds left in the first half. The Trojans took a 17-7 lead into halftime.
The USC defense rose up early in the third as the Irish drove down to the Trojans 26-yard line to open the third quarter but a mishandled snap by Pyne resulted in a fumble and Ralen Goforth recovered it for USC.
The Trojans then took advantage of the miscue with a 74 -yard drive capped by a 5-yard TD jaunt by Raleek Brown for a 24-7 lead.
Notre Dame responded quickly needing only five plays to go 75 yards. Pyne found Deion Colzie in the endzone for a 23-yard touchdown. The Trojans were up 24-14 with 5:54 left in the third.
Williams picked up his second touchdown run of the night- this one from 3 yards out to give USC a 31-14 lead early in the fourth quarter. The March covered 75 yards.
Logan Diggs scored on a 5-yard run on the next possession to complete a 75-yard Notre Dame drive as the Irish again were within 10.
But the Trojans who seemingly had a response for every Notre Dame rally. answered the bell again. Williams led them down the field and then on a fourth and two he busted off a 16-yard touchdown run right through the heart of the Irish defense to make it 38-21 with 2:35 left. That spelled the end for Notre Dame.
The Irish did find the endzone one more time when Pyne hit Mayer for a 24-yard score with just over a minute remaining but the Trojan horse was already down the road.
Williams finished with 232 yards passing and a touchdown on 18 of 22 completions and 35 yards and 3 touchdowns rushing. Austin Jones led the rushing attack with 154 yards on 25 carries. Jordan Addison hauled in 3 receptions for 45 yards.
For Notre Dame Pyne completed 23 of 26 for 318 yards and 3 touchdowns but was intercepted by Muir’s own Calen Bullock in the fourth quarter. That pick led to Williams’ touchdown. Mayer had 8 catches for 98 yards and 2 scores.
USC improved to 11-1 with the victory and will play in the Pac-12 conference championship game next Friday in Las Vegas. Notre Dame fell to 8-4 on the year but will still go bowling.