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No. 3 Notre Dame rolls to 12-0 season, beats rival USC 24-17

LOS ANGELES (AP) Notre Dame's offensive skill players gathered on the sideline and looked up at an unfamiliar sight on the scoreboard. The Fighting Irish hadn't faced a double-digit deficit at any point in their perfect season before Southern California jumped to a 10-0 lead Saturday night.

With their national championship dreams suddenly in a wee bit of trouble, running back Dexter Williams spoke up.

''Somebody has got to make a play!'' Williams shouted.

Ian Book and Chris Finke did just that on Notre Dame's next drive, and Williams did it himself right after halftime.

By the time the Irish were done making plays at the Coliseum, they were well on the way to the College Football Playoff with the Jeweled Shillelagh firmly in hand.

Book passed for 352 yards, Williams went 52 yards on a go-ahead touchdown run and No. 3 Notre Dame completed an unbeaten regular season and likely secured a playoff spot with a 24-17 over longtime rival USC.

''It brings tears to your eyes,'' Notre Dame cornerback Julian Love said. ''So much is put into this, and it was very tough at times. It just feels so good to get here. Nothing has been handed to us. USC was struggling this year, but they weren't just going to hand it to us. We had to go out there and seize it.''

Finke made an exceptional TD catch for the first score by the Fighting Irish (12-0, No. 3 CFP), who showed playoff-level tenacity in rallying from their largest deficit of the season. Tony Jones Jr. then took a short pass 51 yards for a touchdown with 3:09 to play to finish off Notre Dame's 10th perfect regular season since 1945, the first since 2012.

''It's something I dreamed about, so to have it really be like that, it's a surreal moment,'' said Book, the Californian who improved to 9-0 as Notre Dame's starter, including 8-0 this year. ''This whole team, we're just so fortunate to be here. USC, they played great. We knew they had a great defense, and to be able to finish the season off undefeated in a rivalry game, you can't ask for anything better than that.''

Williams rushed for 97 yards as the Irish overcame a slow start in the 90th edition in this famed intersectional rivalry. Notre Dame didn't score until Finke's TD catch shortly before halftime, but the Irish ran off 24 consecutive points and shut out USC in the second half until Tyler Vaughns' TD catch with 48 seconds to play.

Notre Dame is all but certain to be chosen for the four-team playoff, and this win could keep the Irish away from powerhouse Alabama in the first postseason game. The Irish celebrated with ferocity in the Coliseum locker room, with their shouts echoing through the old walls into the USC room.

''It's just such an emotional high,'' Irish linebacker Drue Tranquill said. ''We were just dancing in there. I can't really dance, but I was trying.''

J.T. Daniels passed for 349 yards for the Trojans (5-7), who will stay home for the bowl season after their first losing season since 2000. Vaughns caught 12 passes for 120 yards in what might have been the final game for coach Clay Helton, who is under pressure after the Trojans lost five of their final six games in a dismaying collapse.

USC athletic director Lynn Swann didn't make an immediate announcement on Helton's future.

''The best is yet to be, I truly believe that,'' Helton said. ''I watched the men that are out there, both old and young, and see guys that are truly talented individuals that will develop into a quality football team that can win championships. I know that and I believe that in them.''

After USC won eight straight over Notre Dame in the 2000s, the Irish have won six of the last nine meetings in this classic college football matchup. Notre Dame is the first road team to win in the series since 2012, when the Irish also completed an unbeaten regular season with a victory at the Coliseum.

Only four USC teams have finished with losing records since 1961, but this clearly talented group gave a tough game to the powerhouse Irish. The Trojans' 289 yards in the first half were 64 more than the Irish had allowed before halftime all season, and Notre Dame had only trailed twice at any point all season.

Although Jones' late rumble to the end zone clinched the expected result for Notre Dame, the Trojans were competitive with an elite opponent despite the roiling subplot of their coach's future.

USC's 10-7 halftime lead could have been much larger, but receivers Michael Pittman Jr. and Amon-Ra St. Brown both fumbled after catches in Notre Dame territory. The Irish offense didn't score until 2:20 before halftime on that 24-yard throw to Finke, who hadn't caught a TD pass since the season opener against Michigan.

THE TAKEAWAY

Notre Dame: The Irish showed resilience throughout their cross-country odyssey of a season, and narrowly beating an inspired USC squad is nothing about which to be ashamed. They'll be glad to have the test as they head toward a two-game shot at their first national championship since 1988.

USC: The Trojans showed up well for Helton despite the bleak circumstances, but were undone again by turnovers, penalties and poor play after halftime. Swann should announce his decision on Helton's future shortly.

HELTON'S WOES

Helton won the Pac-12 last season and the Rose Bowl just two years ago, but a large portion of the Trojans' fan base is publicly agitating for the dismissal of the coach, who got a contract extension through 2023 just nine months ago.

When Helton's face appeared in a recorded announcement on the scoreboard in the first half, he was booed by a portion of the Coliseum crowd of 59,821 - the smallest for the Notre Dame-USC game in Los Angeles since 1960.

UP NEXT

Notre Dame expects to get an invitation to the four-team playoff, hopefully to face Clemson in the Orange Bowl, which had several representatives outside the Irish locker room postgame.

USC's worst season in 18 years is over.

---

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Copyright 2018 by AP. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of AP is strictly prohibited.

Scoring Summary
4th Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 0:48
49-M.Brown extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
24
17
Touchdown 0:54
18-J.Daniels complete to 21-T.Vaughns. 21-T.Vaughns runs 20 yards for a touchdown.
10
plays
105
yds
02:15
pos
24
16
Point After TD 3:09
19-J.Yoon extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
24
10
Touchdown 3:18
12-I.Book complete to 6-T.Jones. 6-T.Jones runs 51 yards for a touchdown.
6
plays
70
yds
02:45
pos
23
10
3rd Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Field Goal 1:14
19-J.Yoon 46 yards Field Goal is Good.
8
plays
31
yds
2:47
pos
17
10
Point After TD 10:55
19-J.Yoon extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
14
10
Touchdown 11:04
2-D.Williams runs 52 yards for a touchdown.
2
plays
67
yds
00:32
pos
13
10
2nd Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 2:20
19-J.Yoon extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
7
10
Touchdown 2:28
12-I.Book complete to 10-C.Finke. 10-C.Finke runs 24 yards for a touchdown.
11
plays
64
yds
04:44
pos
6
10
Field Goal 12:02
49-M.Brown 30 yards Field Goal is Good.
12
plays
67
yds
02:31
pos
0
10
1st Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 11:26
49-M.Brown extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
0
7
Touchdown 11:31
29-V.Malepeai runs 14 yards for a touchdown.
9
plays
65
yds
03:29
pos
0
6
Team Stats
1st Downs 23 24
Rushing 6 7
Passing 16 16
Penalty 1 1
3rd Down Conv 6-15 7-15
4th Down Conv 1-2 1-1
Total Net Yards 462 425
Total Plays 70 75
Avg Gain 6.6 5.7
Net Yards Rushing 121 94
Rush Attempts 31 24
Avg Rush Yards 3.9 3.9
Net Yards Passing 341 331
Comp. - Att. 22-39 37-51
Yards Per Pass 8.7 6.5
Sacked - Yards Lost 3-11 2-18
Penalties - Yards 3-38 8-71
Touchdowns 3 2
Rushing TDs 1 1
Passing TDs 2 1
Other 0 0
Turnovers 1 2
Fumbles - Lost 0-0 2-2
Int. Thrown 1 0
Punts - Avg 4-47.3 6-38.5
Return Yards 7 79
Punts - Returns 1-7 1-22
Kickoffs - Returns 0-0 3-57
Int. - Returns 0-0 1-0
Kicking 4/4 3/3
Extra Points 3/3 2/2
Field Goals 1/1 1/1
Safeties 0 0
1234T
3 Notre Dame 12-0 0710724
USC 5-7 730717
341 PASS YDS 331
121 RUSH YDS 94
462 TOTAL YDS 425
Passing CP/ATT YDS TD INT
I. Book 12 QB
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
56.4% 352 2 1 144.0
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
70.4% 2468 19 6 162.5
I. Book 22/39 352 2 1
C. Finke 10 WR
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
0% 0 0 0 0.0
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
0% 0 0 0 0.0
C. Finke 0/0 0 0 0
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
D. Williams 2 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
16 97 1
SEASON ATT YDS TD
142 941 12
D. Williams 16 97 1 52
I. Book 12 QB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
7 16 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
78 250 4
I. Book 7 16 0 16
T. Jones Jr. 6 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
3 15 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
83 392 3
T. Jones Jr. 3 15 0 15
J. Armstrong 8 WR
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
1 0 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
71 377 7
J. Armstrong 1 0 0 0
C. Finke 10 WR
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
1 -1 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
5 20 0
C. Finke 1 -1 0 -1
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
C. Finke 10 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
7 86 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
47 547 2
C. Finke 7 86 1 24
M. Boykin 81 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
3 73 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
54 803 8
M. Boykin 3 73 0 38
C. Claypool 83 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
5 73 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
48 631 4
C. Claypool 5 73 0 28
D. Williams 2 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
5 54 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
13 104 1
D. Williams 5 54 0 22
T. Jones Jr. 6 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 51 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
6 157 1
T. Jones Jr. 1 51 1 51
A. Mack 86 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 15 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
34 349 3
A. Mack 1 15 0 15
N. Weishar 82 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
0 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
3 10 2
N. Weishar 0 0 0 0
M. Young 87 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
0 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
7 138 1
M. Young 0 0 0 0
Defense T-A SACK INT
T. Pride Jr. 5 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
9-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
9-0 2 0.0
T. Pride Jr. 9-0 0.0 0
J. Love 27 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
9-3 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
9-3 1 0.0
J. Love 9-3 0.0 0
A. Gilman 11 S
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
8-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
8-2 2 0.0
A. Gilman 8-2 0.0 0
D. Tranquill 23 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
6-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
6-2 0 0.0
D. Tranquill 6-2 0.0 0
T. Coney 4 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
4-4 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
4-4 1 0.0
T. Coney 4-4 0.0 0
N. Coleman 24 S
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-0 1 0.0
N. Coleman 3-0 0.0 0
J. Elliott 21 S
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-1 4 0.0
J. Elliott 3-1 0.0 0
T. Bracy 35 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
T. Bracy 3-0 0.0 0
K. Kareem 53 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.0
K. Kareem 2-1 0.0 0
A. Bilal 22 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-2 0 0.0
A. Bilal 2-2 0.0 0
A. Ogundeji 91 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
A. Ogundeji 1-0 0.0 0
K. Hinish 41 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
K. Hinish 1-0 0.0 0
J. Bonner 55 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
J. Bonner 1-0 0.0 0
J. Tillery 99 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 1.0
J. Tillery 1-0 1.0 0
D. Hayes 9 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
D. Hayes 1-0 0.0 0
Ja. Ademilola 57 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
Ja. Ademilola 1-0 0.0 0
J. Okwara 42 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 1 1.0
J. Okwara 1-0 1.0 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
J. Yoon 19 K
IN-GAME FG XP
1/1 3/3
SEASON FG XP
16/20 41/43
J. Yoon 1/1 46 3/3 6
Punting NO AVG IN20 LG
T. Newsome 85 P
IN-GAME NO AVG IN20
4 47.3 2
SEASON NO AVG IN20
45 44.4 2
T. Newsome 4 47.3 2 59
Kickoff Returns NO AVG LG TD
M. Boykin 81 WR
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
1 0.0 0 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
1 0.0 0 0
M. Boykin 1 0.0 0 0
Punt Returns NO AVG LG TD
C. Finke 10 WR
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
1 7.0 7 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
19 10.3 7 0
C. Finke 1 7.0 7 0
Passing CP/ATT YDS TD INT
J. Daniels 18 QB
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
72.5% 349 1 0 136.5
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
59.5% 2672 14 10 128.6
J. Daniels 37/51 349 1 0
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
A. Ware 28 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
13 68 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
125 825 6
A. Ware 13 68 0 13
M. Stepp 30 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
5 23 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
7 33 0
M. Stepp 5 23 0 9
V. Malepeai 29 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
4 21 1
SEASON ATT YDS TD
93 501 8
V. Malepeai 4 21 1 14
J. Daniels 18 QB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
2 -18 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
45 -149 0
J. Daniels 2 -18 0 -9
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
T. Vaughns 21 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
12 120 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
58 674 6
T. Vaughns 12 120 1 28
A. St. Brown 8 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
10 94 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
60 750 3
A. St. Brown 10 94 0 23
M. Pittman Jr. 6 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
7 91 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
41 758 6
M. Pittman Jr. 7 91 0 35
V. Jones Jr. 1 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
3 24 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
24 266 1
V. Jones Jr. 3 24 0 12
D. Williams 2 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 10 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
4 87 1
D. Williams 1 10 0 10
M. Stepp 30 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 7 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
1 7 0
M. Stepp 1 7 0 7
A. Ware 28 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
2 2 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
9 35 0
A. Ware 2 2 0 2
V. Malepeai 29 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 1 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
15 88 0
V. Malepeai 1 1 0 1
A. Harris 27 CB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
0 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
0 0 0
A. Harris 0 0 0 0
Defense T-A SACK INT
C. Smith 35 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
12-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
12-2 0 0.0
C. Smith 12-2 0.0 0
J. Iosefa 56 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
5-1 0 0.0
J. Iosefa 5-1 0.0 0
I. Marshall 8 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
4-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
4-1 0 0.0
I. Marshall 4-1 0.0 0
J. Lockett 23 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
4-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
4-0 0 0.0
J. Lockett 4-0 0.0 0
A. Harris 27 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-1 1 0.0
A. Harris 3-1 0.0 0
C. Rector 89 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-1 0 0.0
C. Rector 3-1 0.0 0
C. Williams 17 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
C. Williams 3-0 0.0 0
M. Tuipulotu 51 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 2.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 2.0
M. Tuipulotu 3-0 2.0 0
I. Langley 24 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 1 0.0
I. Langley 2-0 0.0 0
L. Jimmons 93 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
L. Jimmons 1-0 0.0 0
P. Gustin 45 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
P. Gustin 1-0 0.0 0
J. McMillan 30 S
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 1 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 1 0.0
J. McMillan 1-0 0.0 1
J. Tufele 78 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
J. Tufele 1-0 0.0 0
M. Dorton 44 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
0-2 0 0.0
M. Dorton 0-2 0.0 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
M. Brown 49 K
IN-GAME FG XP
1/1 2/2
SEASON FG XP
7/9 32/32
M. Brown 1/1 30 2/2 5
Punting NO AVG IN20 LG
R. Budrovich 46 P
IN-GAME NO AVG IN20
6 38.5 1
SEASON NO AVG IN20
58 39.4 1
R. Budrovich 6 38.5 1 51
Kickoff Returns NO AVG LG TD
V. Jones Jr. 1 WR
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
3 19.0 22 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
21 23.0 22 0
V. Jones Jr. 3 19.0 22 0
Punt Returns NO AVG LG TD
T. Vaughns 21 WR
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
1 22.0 22 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
19 10.5 22 1
T. Vaughns 1 22.0 22 0
1st POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
11:26 USC 35 1:36 7 18 Punt
4:43 ND 33 1:05 3 -1 Punt
2nd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
11:57 USC 35 2:30 10 26 Downs
7:12 ND 36 4:44 11 64 TD
1:11 ND 15 1:01 5 83 Halftime
3rd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
0:03 USC 35 0:00 4 -4 Punt
11:36 ND 33 0:32 2 67 TD
7:12 ND 12 1:35 7 47 Punt
4:03 ND 40 2:47 8 31 FG
4th POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
11:54 ND 20 3:14 8 0 INT
6:03 ND 30 2:45 6 70 TD
0:48 USC 35 0:04 4 16
1st POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
15:00 ND 35 3:29 9 65 TD
9:45 USC 5 4:33 11 52 Fumble
2:59 USC 38 2:31 12 47 FG
2nd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
8:46 USC 39 0:54 4 24 Punt
2:20 ND 35 1:03 8 56 Fumble
3rd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
14:03 USC 10 1:42 6 25 Punt
10:55 ND 35 3:39 10 40 Punt
5:33 USC 20 1:26 4 50 Punt
1:14 ND 35 1:08 11 24 Punt
4th POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
8:03 USC 20 1:28 3 10 Punt
3:09 ND 35 2:15 10 60 TD