This was supposed to be the year Southern Cal finally beat Notre Dame. But the Trojans didn't even come close.
Marc Edwards ran for three touchdowns and threw for a 2-point conversion as No. 17 Notre Dame pounded No. 5 Southern Cal 38-10 Saturday to extend its unbeaten streak against the Trojans to 13 games.The Fighting Irish (6-2) ran for 191 yards and four TDs against a highly rated USC defense, which was giving up only 9.5 points and 81 rushing yards per game. And Notre Dame's much-maligned defense warmed up on a cold, dreary day, holding Southern Cal 24 points below its average and contributing a safety in the fourth quarter.
Southern Cal is 0-12-1 against Notre Dame since 1982, including last year's 17-17 tie. It was the Trojans' worst loss to the Irish since a 37-3 defeat in 1985.
The Trojans (6-1) pulled to 21-10 on Adam Rendon's 25-yard field goal early in the second half and had a chance to get closer later in the period, but Larry Parker's 59-yard punt return for an apparent touchdown was nullified by a clipping penalty.
With Lou Holtz coaching from the press box, Notre Dame pulled away in the fourth quarter with a safety, a 2-yard touchdown pass from Ron Powlus to Pete Chryplewicz and a 1-yard TD run by Edwards. The Irish got the safety when Kory Minor tackled quarterback Kyle Wachholtz in the end zone.
Holtz, still recovering from spinal surgery, got a big cheer when he came down to the field with 4:25 left. Wearing a soft neck brace, he watched the rest of the game from the sideline.
Notre Dame made a lot of clutch plays against Southern Cal, converting 15 of 20 third-down chances.
Southern Cal star Keyshawn Johnson caught six passes for 122 yards and a touchdown, but was not a major factor in the game.
The Trojans, who allowed only three rushing touchdowns in their first six games, gave up three TDs on the ground in the first half.
After stopping USC on its first series, Notre Dame drove 80 yards in 14 plays and scored on Edwards' 9-yard run with 8:38 left in the first quarter. Kevin Kopka missed the extra point kick, leaving the Irish with a 6-0 lead against a team that had trailed only once all season.
Southern Cal appeared ready to score on its next possession after driving to the Notre Dame 3, but linebacker Kinnon Tatum made a spectacular play to end the threat.
Tatum blitzed, flew across the line and slammed into tailback Delon Washington just as he took a handoff from quarterback Brad Otton. Washington fumbled and Notre Dame's Bert Berry recovered.
Southern Cal took a 7-6 lead in the second period on a 17-yard TD pass from Wachholtz to Johnson, who broke a tackle by Allen Rossum at the 8 and tightroped down the sideline for the score. The TD came two plays after the Trojans recovered a fumbled punt by Scott Sollmann at the Irish 17.
However, Notre Dame came back and took a 21-7 lead with two TDs in the final 31/2 minutes of the half.
Edwards, a junior fullback, scored on a 2-yard run with 3:25 left, capping a 60-yard drive that ended with 10 straight running plays. The Irish made it 14-7 when Edwards took a pitch from Powlus, scrambled and passed back to Powlus in the end zone for a 2-point conversion.
Notre Dame got the ball back after USC came up short on a fourth-down play and quickly went 62 yards for another score - a 4-yard run by Autry Denson with 41 seconds remaining.