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.
On a night when USC badly needs him, Andre Heidari is not coming through.
Earlier tonight, he missed badly from 40 yards. He just missed again -- again wide right -- from 46 yards.
He did make a 22-yard field goal. Barely.
USC keeps getting the ball in good field position, but the Trojans just can't convert.
A 14-yard run by Silas Redd gave USC a first down at the Notre Dame 33, but the Trojans went backward from there.
Redd has rushed for 105 yards in 18 carries, but the vast majority of those yards came early in the game.
Notre Dame leads, 14-10, midway through the fourth quarter.
The Fighting Irish are stalled, too, on offense, and quarterback Tommy Rees is injured and no longer available.
Notre Dame 14, USC 10 (end of third quarter)
That was ugly.
USC and Notre Dame each had only one first down in the third quarter.
Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith intercepted a pass by Cody Kessler early in the quarter but the Fighting Irish could not capitalize.
USC quarterback Cody Kessler has completed 14 of 24 passes for 119 yards. The Trojans are without receiver Marqise Lee, who apparently reinjured his left knee.
Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees left th egame after he was sacked by Lamar Dawson.
Rees has completed 14 of 21 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns.
Notre Dame 14, USC 10 (halftime)
Tommy Rees connected with receiver TJ Jones for an 11-yard touchdown pass that gave the Fighting Irish the lead with 1:13 left in the second quarter.
Running back Cam McDaniel had runs of 24 and 36 yards to help set up the touchdown that ended a 91-yard drive.
Rees has completed 12 of 18 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns.
McDaniel has gained 83 yards in 11 carries.
USC quarterback Cody Kessler has completed eight of 15 passes for 88 yards.
Tailback Silas Redd has rushed for 91 yards and a touchdown in 14 carries.
USC 10, Notre Dame 7 (7:50 left in the second quarter)
Andre Heidari, who missed a 40-yard field-goal attempt on the previous possession, kicked a 22-yard field goal to give USC a three-point lead.
Nelson Agholor set up the opportunity by returing a punt 48 yards to the Fighting Irish 25. An illegal formation penalty against Notre Dame's punt team moved the ball to the 20.
USC had first and goal from the nine, but Justin Davis ran for three yards and Cody Kessler threw incomplete.
After an offside penalty against Notre Dame, USC lined up in a wildcat formation. Tailback Javorius Allen took the direct snap but was stopped for a one-yard loss, bringing on Heidari.
Kessler has completed six of 10 passes for 72 yards.
Silas Redd has rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown in nine carries.
USC 7, Notre Dame 7 (end of first quarter)
Notre Dame quiarterback Tommy Rees connected with tight end Troy Niklas for a seven-yard touchdown pass to tie the score on the final play of the quarter.
It was the fifth touchdown reception of the season for Niklas, who played at Anaheim Servite High.
Rees has completed eight of 11 passes for 98 yards.
Former USC tailback Amir Carlisle picked up a first down for the Fighting Irish with a five-yard gain during the 77-yard, 10-play drive.
USC 7, Notre Dame 0 (4:03 left in the first quarter)
Senior tailback Silas Redd scored on a one-yard run to cap a 96-yard scoring drive.
Redd carried six times for 40 yards during a drive that took 6 minutes 25 seconds.
Quarterback Cody Kessler completed four of five passes, including two on third down.
The Trojans got the scoring opportunity thanks to a goal-line stand by the defense.
Notre Dame had a first and goal at the eight. Cam McDaniel carried three consecutive times to set up a fourth-and-goal play from the one.
McDaniel got the ball again, but USC safety Su'a Cravens read the play and tackled McDaniel for a three-yard loss.
About 30 minutes before kickoff here at Notre Dame Stadium, where USC will try to extend its winning streak in South Bend, Ind., to six games.
USC has not lost a road game against the Fighting Irish since 2001.
As per custom, it was a lively scene outside the stadium when the Trojans arrived on three buses. Notre Dame players had preceded USC into the stadium, cheered by thousands of fans. Then interim Coach Ed Orgeron led the Trojans through the gauntlet without incident.
It rained briefly earlier in the day and the skies are cloudy. There is a chance of rain during the game.
USC is 4-2 after coming off a 38-31 victory over Arizona.
Notre Dame (4-2) had an open date last week after defeating Arizona State, 37-34, at Arlington, Texas.