Game 7 wrap-up: All that glitters is not gold

Southern California 31, Notre Dame 17

Vision is often clouded by what lies beneath the golden dome. It’s the echoing hooves of horsemen long past, combined with fading sounds of championship celebration. It’s Notre Dame football, where name alone will spring distorted perception, just as long-traveled myths will often distort the facts.

USC went into Saturday’s game as a 9.5 point underdog, perceived as the same loser in this rivalry a year ago, and possessing a soft record of 5-1. In contrast, the Irish entered at 4-2, with some bad bounces wedged between the current state and season perfection. Notre Dame was said to be the better team on both sides of the ball, and a program, despite its record, straddling the cusp of college football’s elite. But as the light shined bright on a Saturday in South Bend, everything was suddenly in focus and fallacies exposed.

The Trojans dominated the Irish on their own field, never trailing, and dousing each threat. They were better in every aspect of the game, which came as a surprise to those choosing to sit at the Irish table and sip the wine of delusion last week.

The Irish managed just 10 points offensively, a far cry from the 32 point average on the season. The vaunted rushing attack produced just 41 yards, which was 153 yards fewer than the season average. But more importantly, a defense built on senior leadership had no answer for Matt Barkley, Robert Woods and Trojan ball carriers by any name.

Barkley finished 24 or 35 for 225 yards and 3 touchdowns. He was seldom harassed and never sacked. Woods recorded a game high 12 receptions for 119 yards, living up to his billing, and bouncing back from a season low performance at Cal. Against one of the better defensive fronts the Trojans were to see all year, USC rushed for 219 yards, the unit’s highest output of 2011.

In contrast, Notre Dame received most of its production from tight end Tyler Eifert, who caught a team high 7 passes for 66 yards. The team’s most heralded receiver, Michael Floyd, was limited to just 28 yards on 4 receptions, locked down by a secondary often burned in prior weeks. The Irish generated just 267 yards of total offense, while the defense surrendered 443 yards to its rival. And what is most stunning, if you drank the wine with everyone else, is that the totals come from a near double-digit  favorite, at home, with two weeks to prepare.

The victory pushed USC to No. 20 in this week’s AP poll, which is three places higher than the only team to beat them, Arizona State. It also lifts the mask from the Notre Dame beautification project, knocking it from a branch of almost there to a more proper placement of average at best.

USC has won 9 of the last 10 meetings with Notre Dame, and five consecutive in South Bend.

Fight On!

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~ by Anthony on October 24, 2011.

4 Responses to “Game 7 wrap-up: All that glitters is not gold”

  1. […] Home › NCAA Football › Game 7 wrap-up: All that glitters is not gold […]

  2. As someone who covers Notre Dame and a lifelong fan, I must say, your assertion hurts, but it’s probably exactly correct. The numbers don’t lie. And while much of ND Nation will argue (again) that the Irish were a bounce or two away from a win, at some point it’s time to stop making excuses.

    I found Kiffin’s play calling at times to be genius, and the Trojans to be well prepared. When Notre Dame was down, they couldn’t pry the ball from USC to save their souls. That’s the kind of killer instinct that Notre Dame has been missing in big games. As much of a good win by your Trojans as a bad loss by the Irish.

  3. […] they really didn’t. At best it was equal parts great play by the Trojans and Irish folly. As The Trojan Empire painfully unpacks, the stats show utter domination. This wasn’t South Florida where 500 […]

  4. I actually got to catch that game. Enjoyed watching it

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