Notre Dame overpowers USC in second half, defeats Trojans 41-31

A trying week for the USC football program ended in a 41-31 defeat by rival Notre Dame on Saturday in South Bend, Ind.

Notre Dame improved to 6-1 as USC fell to 3-3.

USC appeared inspired in its first game since Athletic Pat Haden fired coach Steve Sarkisian on Monday.

The Trojans overcame a 14-point first-half deficit to go into halftime tied, 24-24, with the 14th-ranked Fighting Irish.

But Notre Dame scored 17-unanswered points in the second half and stifled any hope USC had of pulling off the upset.

USC quarter Cody Kessler finished 30-of-46 for 365 yards and two touchdowns, with two interceptions.


Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer completed 15 of 24 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns.

USC resumes Pac-12 Conference play on Saturday against Utah.

Notre Dame 41, USC 31 -- FINAL

USC’s two-minute drill looks more like a 10-minute drill and it eventually stalls, giving Notre Dame a 41-31 vicotry.


Notre Dame is unable to make anything of Max Redfield’s interception.

C.J. Prosise rushes for short gains before freshman linebacker Porter Gustin sacks DeShone Kizer on third down.

Notre Dame punts and it is downed on the one-yard line. Everything going Notre Dame’s way in the second half.


USC quarterback Cody Kessler throws to JuJu Smith-Schuster who tips the pass and its intercepted by Max Redfield.

That’s back-to-back inteceptions for Kessler.

Redfield was a former USC recruit who picked Notre Dame.

Notre Dame 41, USC 31 -- 5:39 left in the fourth quarter

Notre Dame capitalizes on an interception and kicks a 32-yard field goal to make it a two-possession game in the fourth quarter.

DeShone Kizer completes a deep 45-yard pass to Will Fuller, who burns Adoree’ Jackson for the second time of the game. Jackson was in perfect position, but Kizer made a perfect throw. What a way to start the drive.

Kizer and C.J. Prosise rush for no gains on consecutive carries before Kizer completes a nine-yard pass to Prosise.

Notre Dame attempts at 32-yard field goal and its good.


USC quarterback Cody Kessler aims deep for JuJu Smith-Schuster but he is intercepted by KeiVarae Russell.

That is only Kessler’s fourth interception of the season. He had uncharacteristic back-to-back interceptions last week against Washington.

Smith-Schuster is down on the play.

Notre Dame 38, USC 31 -- 9:06 left in the fourth quarter

Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer completes a 10-yard pass to Corey Robinson on third and eight to give the Fighting Irish a 38-31 lead. Notre Dame’s drive covers 91 yards in seven plays. That’s back-to-back scoring drives of 90-plus yards for the Fighting Irish.

C.J. Prosise starts the drive by breaking through the defensive line to rush for 17 yards and 25 yards in consecutive.

Notre Dame gives USC’s trick play a try: Kizer completes a backwards pass to Torii Hunter Jr. who completes a 35-yard wobbler to Alize Jones. Officials review the play to see if Jones had possession of the ball before going out of bounds and the play stands.

Kizer completes a 10-yard pass to Corey Robinson who makes an impressive diving catch for a touchdown with Iman Marshall on his back.

The extra point is good.

That’s 14 unanswered points by Notre Dame.


Notre Dame’s defense comes alive and forces USC to punt.

Freshman Deontay Burnett is having the game of his short career. He catches a 28-yard pass for a new career long.

However, tailback Tre Madden is stuffed and a Kessler pass falls incompete before he is sacked on the next play.

Notre Dame Stadium roars.

USC punts.

Notre Dame 31, USC 31 -- 14:20 left in the fourth quarter

Notre Dame running back C.J. Prosise rushes for six yards to cap a nine-play 90-yard scoring drive that ties the game, 31-31, in the fourth quarter.

USC’s defense starts strong before Kizer rushes for 23 yards on third and five. Freshman Marvell Tell eventually tackles Kizer.

USC gifts Notre Dame 30 yards when Kevon Seymour and Adoree’ Jackson are called for pass interference on consecutive plays.

The Trojans have committed 10 penalties, resulting in a 105 yards.

Prosise breaks three tackles before he tumbles into the end zone at the end of a six-yard carry.

The extra point is good.


USC punts after Cody Kessler’s third-down pass falls incomplete.

Justin Davis is the workhorse of the drive as USC sticks to the run. Davis has rushed for 52 yards in seven carries.

Zach Banner picks up his second false start of the game as penalties mount.

The Trojans have been flagged for eight penalties for a loss of 75 yards. Notre Dame has committed four for 40 yards. Referees are from the Pac-12.

Excellent punt by USC makes Notre Dame start from its own 10-yard line.


USC’s defense is playing inspired and forces Notre Dame to punt for its second time of the half.

USC begins on a miscue by Iman Marshall who is called for a facemask penalty during the return and moves Notre Dame to its own 38-yard line to start the drive.

Su’a Cravens drops C.J. Prosise in the backfield. Cravens continues to be USC’s best play maker on defense.

Nick Watson makes an 11-yard catch as the defense swarms him.

Third and two, DeShone Kizer examines the defense but his pass falls incomplete, safety John Plattenburg was in on the coverage.

Notre Dame punts.

USC 31, Notre Dame 24 -- 9:40 left in the third quarter

First-year Trojans play their part in a long drive that results in a four-yard pass from Cody Kessler to Taylor McNamara for a USC touchdown. The drive covered 80 yards in five plays.

USC starts its drive with a penalty by Zach Banner, who is called for holding. That’s six penalties for 55 yards.

Freshman Deontay Burnett makes a career-long 19-yard catch. Clay Helton said Burnett could see more action because of the injuries to Steven Mitchell Jr. and Isaac Whitney. Burnett is another talented player from Gardena Serra High.

Freshman Ronald Jones turns on the afterburners after he bounces off a tackle and he rushes for 65 yards before he is tackled by a last-chance defender.

Kessler completes a four-yard pass to tight end Taylor McNamara, the graduate transfer from Oklahoma, for a touchdown.

Alex Wood’s extra point is good.


USC’s defense starts strong in the second half and forces Notre Dame to punt.

Notre Dame receives to start the second half and the Fighting Irish carry the ball on their first three plays for a first down.

Defensive lineman Delvon Simmons sacks DeShone Kizer. The defensive line appears more aggressive than it has been in recent games.

Third and 11, Su’a Cravens is in the face of Kizer who must throw it away.

Notre Dame punts.


Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly calls three timeouts in an attempt to ice USC kicker Alex Wood and it works. Wood misses a 36-yard field goal as the ball clanks off the upright. Notre Dame and USC are tied, 24-24, at halftime.

Quarterback Cody Kessler keeps the ball to start the drive and scrambles, taking a hit from Sheldon Day late out of bounds and another 15-yards is tacked onto the play for USC. A penalty finally goes in USC’s favor.

And then, a penalty hurts USC. Kessler completes a pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster, but the play comes back -- and is backed up -- because Toa Lobendahn picks up a personal foul.

Justin Davis catches a 14-yard pass and Jalen Greene makes a 15-yard reception, evading a tackle to pick up a couple of extra yards.

Kessler underthrows Smith-Schuster, who traps the ball on the ground - incomplete. Smith-Schuster tries to sell the catch.

Tyler Petite makes his second catch of the game. Tight ends are finally being integrated into the offense.

Fourth and two, Clay Helton trots out kicker Alex Wood to attempt a 36-yard field goal.

Brian Kelly calls three timeouts to try to ice Wood and it works. He clanks it off the upright.


USC’s defense comes up big again and forces a three-and-out. With 1:47 left in the half and a tied game, USC gets the ball back.

Cameron Smith stuffs C.J. Prosise on the run and Greg Townsend Jr. and Scott Felix make back-to-back sacks.

USC 24, Notre Dame 24 -- 3:15 left in the second quarter

USC’s Adoree’ Jackson is a game changer as he takes a short pass and turns it into an 83-yard touchdown to tie the game. The drive goes 84 yards in two plays.

Tight end sighting to start the drive. Cody Kessler completes a one-yard pass to freshman Tyler Petite.

Jackson in on offense and Jackson takes off - he catches a short pass and speeds 83-yards for a touchdown.

Every time Jackson touches the ball the opposition has to worry. He made a mistake earlier on defense and then he makes up for it.

Alex Wood’s extra point is good.


USC’s defense stifles Notre Dame’s offense on the ensuing drive and the Fighting Irish punt.

This appears to be a different mentality by USC.

Over the last few seasons, the Trojans haven’t shown much fight when they go down early. Perhaps this is a turning point.

Notre Dame 24, USC 17 -- 5:41 left in the second quarter

USC trickeration!

Quarterback Cody Kessler completes a backwards pass to Jalen Greene who completes a 75-yard pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster for a Trojans touchdown.

Reminder that Greene switched positions from quarterback to receiver at the start of fall camp.

Notre Dame 24, USC 10 -- 5:59 left in the second quarter

Notre Dame was within first and goal but USC’s defense makes a strong stand and the Fighting Irish must settle for a 32-yard field goal. The drive only covered 28 yards in nine plays.

Antwaun Woods puts pressure and gets a hit on DeShone Kizer. Woods hasn’t been seen much in the backfield this season.

C.J. Prosise rushes for six yards.

Third and nine, Kizer makes it look easy as he completes a 12-yard pass to Chris Brown in front of freshman cornerback Iman Marshall.

Kizer looks well composed in this rivalry game, considering he is the backup to Malik Zaire, who was injured against Virginia.

Josh Adams bounces off the pile and rushes for 26 yards to USC’s three-yard line. USC’s defense is struggling against the run.

Notre Dame’s Tyler Luatua, from La Mirada High, is called for a critical holding penalty inside the red zone, which backs Notre Dame up five yards.

Marvell Tell breaks up a pass in the end zone to save a touchdown.

Notre Dame kicks a 32-yard field goal.


USC cornerback Adoree’ Jackson strips Torii Hunter Jr. on the three-yard line and Cameron Smith recovers the ball in the endzone for a touchback, saving a would-be Notre Dame touchdown. The offense can’t capitalize.

USC’s defense forces a third down situation to start the second quarater, but DeShone Kizer completes a seven-yard pass to Chris Brown.

Kizer rushes for 16 yards. USC’s defense has had a tough time defending mobile quarterbacks in recent years.

Third and two, Kizer rushes up the middle to pick up a first down.

First and goal for Notre Dame and Adoree’ Jackson makes a huge play and strips Torii Hunter Jr. as he catches a pass and approaches the goal line. Freshman linebacker Cameron Smith recovers and its a touchback for USC.

This is the second play this season where USC’s defense has come up big near the end zone -- recall Arizona State, when Delvon Simmons forced a fumble and Chris Hawkins scooped and scored a touchdown.

USC starts at its own 20-yard line.

Penalties again, Chad Wheeler false start. That’s USC’s fourth penatalies, now for 30 yards.

Third and 13 after a dropped pass by Ronald Jones. Cody Kessler hands off to Tre Madden who is stopped short of a first down.

USC punts.


Notre Dame’s 21 first-quarter points are the most ever in a quarter by the Fighting Irish against USC.


USC’s drive stalls when receiver De’Quan Hampton is called for offensive pass interference. Penalties plague the Trojans, once again. They’ve been an issue through the first five games.

USC’s drive looks hapless after the improbable special teams touchdown by Notre Dame, but Kessler -- under pressure on third down -- shovels a pass to tailback Tre Madden who gets across the first-down marker.

Offensive lineman Viane Talamaivao picks up penalty. Penalties have been a problem through five games, but USC is off to a better start -- only two at this point.

Tailback Justin Davis rushes for 32 yards as he breaks several tackles.

Third and eight, Kessler completes a quick pass to an open Davis for an easy first down -- however, it’s called back. De’Quan Hampton, who was blocking, is called for pass interference.

I must have jinxed USC with all the penalty talk.

Third and 23, Kessler completes 12-yard pass to Darreus Rogers.

Fourth and 12, Clay Helton - who also is continuing to call plays - opts to go for it. Kessler has time, scrambles, but his pass falls incomplete.

USC punts.

Notre Dame 21, USC 10 -- 5:04 left in the first quarter

A special teams’ gaffe gives Notre Dame an easy touchdown as Kris Albarado’s punt is blocked and Amir Carlisle scoops and scores an easy six points for Notre Dame.

Quarterback Cody Kessler hands off to freshman Dominic Davis who is stuffed for a three-yard loss.

Kessler completes a short pass to Darreus Rogers.

Third and eight, the offensive line is giving Kessler time but he doesn’t see an open player and throws it away.

Punter Kris Albarado can’t get the ball away as he is swarmed by several Notre Dame players who block the punt and return it for six.

Equanimeous St. Brown, from Anaheim Servite High and a former USC recruit, is the player who appears to have gotten a hand on the ball.

Notre Dame 14, USC 10 -- 6:20 left in the first quarter

Notre Dame running back C.J. Prosise rushes for 25 yards and a touchdown. The drive covers 75 yards in four plays and shreds USC’s defense.

Quarterback DeShone Kizer hands off to Prosise who rushes for 31-yards in his first carry. Adoree’ Jackson misses a tackle on the play.

Kizer completes a 19-yard pass to Chris Brown.

Notre Dame’s offense is moving smoothly against USC’s defense.

Kizer hands off to Prosise who makes it through USC’s linebackers and speeds his way into the end zone for a touchdown.

Prosise has rushed for 61 yards in three carries.

USC 10, Notre Dame 7 -- 8:46 left in the first quarter

USC kicker Alex Wood makes a 42-yard field goal, a career high, to give USC a three-point lead.

Notre Dame is kicking off to JuJu Smith-Schuster to keep the ball away from Adoree’ Jackson. Smith-Schuster fields the kickoff and eventually pitches it to Jackson. That could be risky business.

Quarterback Cody Kessler competes a three-yard pass to De’Quan Hampton. Hampton, a junior college transfer, hasn’t been used much this season. He will likely see more playing time with Steven Mitchell Jr. and Isaac Whitney sidelined because of injuries.

Darreus Rogers, who was a game-time decision because of a hamstring injury, catches a 15-yard pass.

The drive eventually stalls after an incomplete pass and two hand offs to Justin Davis, but USC attempts at 42-yard field goal and it is good.

Notre Dame 7, USC 7 -- 11:38 left in the first quarter

That was easy.

Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer throws one pass, a 75-yard touchdown strike, to Will Fuller to tie the game.

Fuller sped right past cornerback Adoree’ Jackson.

USC 7, Notre Dame 0 -- 11:53 left in the first quarter

USC quarterback Cody Kessler completes a 37-yard pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster, then Kessler rushes for three yards and a Trojans touchdown. The drive covers 71 yards in eight plays.

USC establishes the run early as Kessler hands off to Tre Madden and Ronald Jones for four carries. Madden also catches a pass for 17 yards.

USC coaches are wearing “Fight On” hoodies -- clearly a sign of what USC wants to do after a long week of distractions.


A USC spokesperson told reporters that Athletic Director Pat Haden was feeling light-headed on the sideline, took a knee and was attended to by team medical personnel.

Haden is stable and is sitting up in the locker room, spokesperson said.


USC is bound to come out on an emotional high against 14th-ranked Notre Dame, but it remains to be seen if that will be enough to defeat the 5-1 Fighting Irish.

Since departing for South Bend, Ind. USC players have posted several messages on social media that channel the energy and mottos left behind by former interim coach Ed Orgeron in 2013.

Clay Helton will be the fourth coach to lead USC against Notre Dame in the last four seasons, following Lane Kiffin in 2012, Orgeron in 2013 and Steve Sarkisian in 2014.

Temperatures are hovering in the 40’s in South Bend and weather could be a factor for USC, which hasn’t played a game outside of the Southern California or desert heat this season.

USC’s announced starters...

Offense: Quarterback Cody Kessler, receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Jalen Greene, fullback Jahleel pinner, tight end Taylor McNamara, tailback Tre Madden and linemen Chad Wheeler, Damien Mama, Toa Lobendahn, Viane Talamaivao and Zach Banner.

Defense: Linemen Delvon Simmons, Antwaun Woods and Greg Townsend Jr., linebackers Su’a Cravens, Anthony Sarao, Cameron Smith and Scott Felix, cornerbacks Adoree’ Jackson and Iman Marshall and safeties John Plattenburg and Chris Hawkins.

Receivers Isaac Whitney and Steven Mitchell Jr. are sidelined because of injuries. Darreus Rogers is a game time decision.

Defensive lineman Claude Pelon is sidined becuase of a knee injury.

Center Max Tuerk is sidelined after he suffered a season-ending knee injury against Washington.

Follow Lindsey Thiry on Twitter @LindseyThiry