#7/7 Notre Dame “Fighting Irish” vs. #6/6 USC “Trojans”
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – Los Angeles, Calif.
- For just the second time in the 114-year history of Notre Dame football, the Irish are selecting captains on a game-by-game basis. The only other time Notre Dame chose captains in this fashion was 1946 under legendary head coach Frank Leahy. Today’s Irish captains were: WR Arnaz Battle, LG Sean Mahan, SS Gerome Sapp and RCB Shane Walton. Battle served as team captain for the sixth time this season, while Walton was a captain for the fourth time. Both Mahan and Sapp were selected as captains for the third time this year.
- Notre Dame won the toss and deferred its choice to the second half. USC elected to receive, while the Irish chose to defend the East goal.
- Tonight’s game marked the 149th sellout in the last 172 games involving Notre Dame. That stretch includes the first 10 games of 1998, the first 11 in ’99, the first five in ’00, the first nine in ’01 and all 12 in ’02.
- Counting postseason play, Notre Dame has now had its last 123 games televised on one of four networks (NBC, ABC, CBS, ESPN), a stretch going back more than nine full seasons. The last time the Irish didn’t appear on one of those four networks was Oct. 31, 1992, when they defeated Navy, 38-7, at Giants Stadium. That game was only shown locally in South Bend on WNDU-TV.
- Senior PK Nicholas Setta put Notre Dame on the scoreboard first with a 34-yard field goal in the first quarter. He added a 32-yard FG later in the period and now has 35 career field goals, good for fourth in school history. Tonight’s game represented the third time this season Setta has kicked at least two FG in a game (five vs. Maryland, two vs. Florida State).
- Setta’s second field goal came after USC fumbled a Notre Dame kickoff and Irish LB Pat Ryan recovered in Trojan territory. Forcing two USC turnovers tonight, Notre Dame now has 33 takeaways this season (three tonight), and the Irish have scored 105 points off those opponent turnovers (three points tonight).
- Before throwing an interception in the second quarter, junior QB Carlyle Holiday had attempted 126 passes without throwing a pick, breaking Steve Beuerlein’s school record of 119 pass attempts in 1986. Prior to tonight’s game, Holiday last threw an interception vs. Pittsburgh on Oct. 12.
- One play after Holiday threw his first interception in the second quarter, junior ILB Mike Goolsby came up with his first career interception, picking off Carson Palmer at the Irish goal line. It was Palmer’s first interception in 147 pass attempts.
- Notre Dame regained a 13-10 lead late in the second quarter when senior LB Carlos Pierre-Antoine blocked a USC punt and fell on the loose ball in the end zone for a touchdown. It was the first blocked punt for a TD by the Irish since Joey Goodspeed returned a blocked punt 33 yards for a score vs. Rutgers on Nov. 23, 1996.
- Pierre-Antoine’s TD was the ninth “non-offensive” score for Notre Dame this season (four interception returns, two fumble returns [one on special teams], one kickoff return, one punt return, one blocked punt return).
- Senior PK Nicholas Setta converted one PAT this evening, extending his streak of consecutive extra points made to 87. Setta’s streak is the second-longest string in school history, topped only by Craig Hentrich’s run of 136 consecutive PAT made from Sept. 30, 1989 to Sept. 26, 1992. Setta last missed an extra point on Oct. 7, 2000 vs. Stanford.
- With his 10 completions tonight, junior QB Carlyle Holiday moved into ninth place on the Notre Dame single-season list with 126 completions this year. He passed Tom Clements (122 in 1974) and Ron Powlus (124 in 1995) this evening.
- USC’s 44 points were the most allowed by Notre Dame in a single game this season, and the most scored against the Irish since Michigan State registered a 45-23 win over Notre Dame on Sept. 12, 1998. It’s also the most points scored by USC against the Irish since 1974, when the Trojans picked up a 55-24 win.
- USC amassed 610 yards of total offense this evening, the most ever by a Notre Dame opponent. The previous record was 591 yards by USC in 1979.
- USC QB Carson Palmer threw for 425 yards tonight, the most ever by an Irish opponent, breaking the previous mark of 424 held by Miami’s Steve Walsh in 1988. Palmer also tied a Notre Dame opponent record with four touchdown passes tonight. Seven other players have also thrown four TD passes against the Irish, most recently Bobby Hoying of Ohio State in 1995.
- USC cards its first win over Notre Dame since a 10-0 upset of the ninth-ranked Irish on Nov. 28, 1998 in Los Angeles. The Trojans also regain possession of the Shillelagh Trophy, presented annually to the winner of the ND-USC game by the Notre Dame Club of Los Angeles.
- The Trojans notch their first 10-win season since 1988, when they posted a 10-2 record.
- USC logs its first win over a top-seven opponent since a 41-32 victory over No. 3 Northwestern in the 1996 Rose Bowl. It also is the Trojans’ first regular-season win over a top-seven foe since a 21-10 triumph over fifth-ranked Penn State on Sept. 14, 1991.