Sixth-ranked USC Trojans have already clinched a trip to the Pac 12 Championship, but to have any hope in the college football playoffs, they needed help before their own game on Saturday.
They did it with No. 2 Ohio State’s big loss to No. 3 Michigan certainly helps USC. They received even more assists after No. 5 LSU lost on the road to a then-4-7 Texas A&M team.
In case that wasn’t enough, though, USC still did its job on Saturday night.
The Trojans defeated No. 15 Notre Dame, 38-27.
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Their win, combined with the losses to OSU and LSU, make it very likely that USC will earn a top 4 spot in the upcoming CFP standings.
The first drive of the game ended with an 11-yard touchdown run from Caleb Williams to Tahj Washington to give USC a 7–0 record. They made a field goal on their next drive after forcing a three-and-out, and after they led 10-0, the Irish fumbled on chances. On their ensuing drive, they were able to cut the Trojans’ lead with a 22-yard touchdown drive by Michael Mayer, but USC responded immediately with a Williams rushing touchdown on their final drive before the half. The Trojans won 17-7 facing the locker room.
On their first drive of the half, Notre Dame lost a fumble at USC’s 26-yard line, and the Trojans responded immediately with a seven-play, 74-yard drive that ended in a Raleek Brown touchdown to give USC a 24 .-7 lead. The Irish came back with a touchdown of their own to make it a 10-point game, but USC marched down the field again, and early in the fourth quarter, Williams scored his second rushing touchdown of the night, and the Trojans went up 31-14.
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Notre Dame got back within 10 points with a touchdown, but on their next drive, Drew Pyne threw an interception with just under five minutes to go. That essentially froze the game, but for good measure, Williams ran for his third touchdown, this one for 16 yards. The Irish added a touchdown, but it was too little too late.
Austin Jones didn’t find the end zone in the win, but was still able to manage 154 rushing yards on 25 carries, while nine Trojans recorded at least one reception.
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USC awaits its opponent for next Friday’s conference title game, which will be either Utah or Oregon, to be decided based on the outcome of the Washington-Washington State game.
If the Huskies lose, the Ducks are in. If Washington wins, the Utes will face the Trojans. The Pac 12 title game will take place at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas at 8 pm ET.