Down to its second-string quarterback for much of the second half, Notre Dame's defense rose to the occasion and shut out USC in the second half for a 14-10 victory over the Trojans on Saturday night in South Bend, Ind.
Notre Dame snapped a five-game losing streak against USC at Notre Dame Stadium and improved to 5-2 overall this season.
The Fighting Irish have won three of their last four games against the Trojans, who fell to 4-3.
USC had its chances. The Trojans had four consecutive possessions in the second half that started at their own 48 as well as Notre Dame's 33, 47 and 34.
Still they came up empty.
The kicking game was a significant problem. Andre Heidari missed badly on field-goal tries from 40 and 46 yards, and after that USC chose to go for first downs in fourth-and-long situations instead of kicking.
Penalties also helped strike down USC. The Trojans were penalized 11 times for 95 yards. Notre Dame lost 38 yards in six infractions.
Notre Dame finished the game with Andrew Hendix at quarterback after starter Tommy Rees was injured on a third-quarter sack by Lamar Dawson. Hendrix was completely ineffective throwing -- he was 0 for 4 passing and really didn't come close to a completion. But it didn't matter.
Rees completed 14 of 21 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns.
Cody Kessler completed 20 of 34 passes for 201 yards with an interception for USC. His leading receivers were Nelson Agholor and Darreus Rogers, who each made six catches.
Agholor's receptions went for 89 yards and Rogers' for 60. Agholor was also a force as a punt returner, taking back four for 100 yards.
Silas Redd became the first running back this season to rush for triple digits against the Notre Dame defense. He finished with 112 yards and a touchdown in 19 carries, but most of that came in the first half.
USC's defense just can't get possession the one place the Trojans could be assured of scoring -- the end zone.
USC had the ball at the Notre Dame 21 after a 16-yard pass from Cody Kessler to Darreus Rogers, but Buck Allen lost two yards on a run and there was an incomplete pass. Then, when Kessler scrambled for a first down with a 19-yard run on third and 12, it was called back by a holding penalty on Aundrey Walker.
After a short pass for a seven yard gain, there was another penalty -- illegal procedure -- pushing the Trojans further back. Kessler was then sacked on fourth and 20.
Kicking a field goal? Apparently not an option. Andre Heidari is 1 for 3 tonight and 1 for 6 on the season on kicks from 30 to 49 yards.
Su'a Cravens has made a couple of big hits tonight, and he just came up with a potentially huge turnover.
Usually sure-handed Notre Dame running back Cam McDaniel fumbled and Su'a was there to scoop it up at the Notre Dame 34.