Caleb Williams rushed for three touchdowns and passed for another, and No. 6-ranked Southern California completed its best regular season since 2008 with a 38-27 win over rival and No. 15-ranked Notre Dame on Saturday in Los Angeles.
The Trojans (11-1, 8-1 Pac-12), already locked into next Friday’s Pac-12 Conference championship game, maintained their prospects of playing in the College Football Playoff with an emphatic win to cap the regular season.
USC jumped ahead less than five minutes into Saturday’s contest when Williams connected with Tahj Washington on an 11-yard touchdown, and the Trojans led from wire-to-wire thereafter.
Notre Dame (8-4) threatened in the second quarter when Drew Pyne threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Michael Mayer.
The Fighting Irish pulled to within 10-7 on that score, but gave up the first of Williams’ rushing touchdowns on the ensuing USC possession. The 5-yard end-zone jaunt just 34 seconds before halftime pushed the Trojans’ lead back to double digits — and it never again dipped back into single digits.
USC — and specifically Williams — quickly answered any Notre Dame rally effort throughout the second half, pushing its lead to 17 points on three occasions in the third and fourth quarters. Williams ran for scores of 3 and 16 yards, the latter slamming the door on the Fighting Irish with 2:35 remaining.
Raleek Brown opened the second half with a 5-yard touchdown run for the Trojans. Austin Jones, meanwhile, buoyed the USC rushing attack with 154 yards on 24 carries to support Williams’ 35 yards.
Williams finished 18-of-22 passing for 232 yards and spread his completions among nine pass-catchers. Jordan Addison led the way with 45 yards on three receptions.
Pyne went 23-of-26 passing for 318 yards and threw three touchdown passes in the loss, including a second to Mayer in the game’s closing moments. He was intercepted by Calen Bullock in the fourth quarter.
The Irish rushed for just 90 yards on 26 carries.
–Field Level Media