Nov. 29, 2008
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Mark Sanchez passed for 267 yards and two touchdowns, USC’s hard-hitting defense was in full form, and the fifth-ranked Trojans rolled to a 38-3 victory over the Irish.
USC finished with 22 first downs and 449 yards of total offense while Notre Dame had four first downs and 91 yards. The Trojans have allowed 10 touchdowns and an NCAA low 7.8 points per game this season.
By winning their eighth straight game, the Trojans kept their national championship hopes alive and, at the very least, put themselves in position to play in their fourth straight Rose Bowl game.
With No. 17 Oregon State’s 65-38 loss to No. 19 Oregon earlier Saturday, USC (10-1, 7-1 Pac-10) needs only to beat crosstown rival UCLA (4-7, 3-5) next weekend to win its seventh straight conference title and set up a New Year’s date in Pasadena with No. 6 Penn State, the Big Ten champion.
The Trojans are now 27-0 in November games under coach Pete Carroll.
Notre Dame (6-6) is still bowl eligible despite the loss.
Sanchez completed 22-of-31 passes with two interceptions. Damian Williams had seven receptions for 86 yards and Patrick Turner caught six for 83 yards. Joe McKnight gained 63 yards on four carries.
Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen, who grew up in nearby Westlake Village, completed 11-of-22 passes for 41 yards with two interceptions and was sacked four times.
The Trojans took a 7-0 lead on their second possession, scoring on a 2-yard run by Stafon Johnson to cap a 79-yard drive for the first touchdown allowed by the Irish in the opening quarter since Sept. 27.
USC scored on its last three possessions of the second quarter to make it 24-0 at halftime.
McKnight ran 55 yards on the first play after an interception by Kaluka Maiava, and Sanchez threw a 12-yard scoring pass to Williams to cap a 67-yard drive. David Buehler added a 35-yard field goal with 24 seconds left in the half.
C.J. Gable’s 1-yard run with 5:03 left in the third quarter capped a 44-yard drive and made it 31-0.
The Irish crossed midfield for the first time on the second play of the fourth quarter, and got as far as the USC 23 before Brandon Walker kicked a 41-yard field goal to prevent USC from recording its fourth shutout of the year. Sanchez then threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Turner.