USC-Notre Dame football score: Live updates, stats (Oct. 21, 2017)

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Notre Dame dominated USC 49-14 on Saturday night in South Bend, Ind., thanks to an opportunistic Irish team taking advantage of mistakes on the part of Trojans Sam Darnold and Jack Jones, and 4 total touchdowns from Irish quarterback Brandon Wimbush. Find the score and live updates below.

USC-Notre Dame football score, live updates

Q4 13:17: Notre Dame is pouring it on. The Irish ran a flea flicker during a drive that spanned 52 yards in 5 plays and ended in a 14-yard touchdown run by Josh Adams, his third of the night. The Irish lead 49-14.

Q3 3:07: Josh Adams is apparently impatient. The Notre Dame running back sprinted 84 yards through the middle of the USC defense for a touchdown, pushing the Irish lead back out to 42-14.

Q3 3:26: Back and forth we go! The Trojans bounced right back with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Darnold to Deontay Burnett, which capped a 6-play, 73-yard drive and cut Notre Dame’s lead to 35-14.

Q3 6:06: Not to be outdone, Notre Dame responded with an 8-play, 65-yard drive that culminated in a 7-yard touchdown run by Wimbush. The Irish extended their lead to 35-7.

Q3 10:00: USC came out of the break swinging, marching down the field on the opening drive of the second half and scoring on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Darnold to Steven Mitchell to cut Notre Dame’s lead to 28-7.

Q2 3:54: A Darnold interception returned possession to the Irish, who again cashed in. Wimbush capped a 7-play, 59-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run, sneaking inside the left pylon to extend the Notre Dame lead to 28-0.

Q2  7:43: Another USC mistake — this time, a muffed punt by Jack Jones — set up the Irish deep in Trojans territory, and 3 plays later they were again in the end zone with Josh Adams’ 3-yard touchdown run. Notre Dame leads, 21-0.

Q1 6:59: The Irish padded their lead thanks to a drive led by Brandon Wimbush on the ground and through the air. The quarterback connected with Kevin Stepherson on a 23-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-0 Irish.

Q1 12:45: Notre Dame took advantage of a familiar early Trojans mistake (a Sam Darnold fumble near midfield) and scored 3 plays later on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Wimbush to receiver Equanimeous St. Brown to take a 7-0 lead.

USC-Notre Dame preview, picks

No. 11 USC (6-1, 4-1) and No. 13 Notre Dame (5-1) have produced plenty of classics over the many decades the rivalry has covered since their first meeting in 1926 (remember the Bush Push?), but few have been as important in recent years as this contest sets up to be. For the first time since 2009, both teams are ranked in the AP Poll entering the contest. With each team owning 1 loss, the winner of the 89th meeting between the two schools exits a close matchup with another win and continues on the path toward conference (for USC, but not the independent Notre Dame) and national supremacy, while the loser will fall out of the College Football Playoff race entirely.

This series has gone back and forth in recent years, with the teams trading possession of the Jeweled Shillelagh each season since Notre Dame won consecutive games over USC in 2012 and 2013. Notre Dame leads the all-time series 46-37-5, with a 25-14-1 record against the Trojans at home. The home team has won the last four games in the series In the last 10 meetings, USC has gone 6-4, including a 45-27 win over the Irish last season at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Line: Notre Dame (-3.5)

Over/under: 65

USC-Notre Dame keys to the game

Clean it up

Much of USC’s problems have centered on sloppy play, which sank them in the loss to Washington State, and again reared its ugly head in a win over Oregon State and  a nailbiter of a victory over Utah. Three first-half turnovers put the Trojans in a hole out of which they had to climb against Utah. Against a better opponent, it could spell their doom. The Trojans own an even turnover differential (16-16 giveaways-takeaways, tied for 59th in the NCAA), which is a sign of a team that has had some close calls with failure but has recovered in time to stave off defeat. Mistakes similar to last week’s game will sink them in Notre Dame. They simply can’t happen if USC wants to move to 7-1.

Fight the adversity

Factors out of USC’s control are setting up against the Trojans this week. They’re coming off a 1-point win over Utah that required a massive second-half comeback effort and defensive stand. Notre Dame had a bye last week. The Trojans have to travel across the country to South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame spends the week leading up to the game at home. But that’s the funny thing about these Trojans: They seem to thrive when the deck is stacked against them. USC has come from behind to escape with wins over Texas and Utah, and needed second-half surges to run away with wins over Western Michigan and Cal. They’re riddled with injuries, yet continue to find ways to win, save for the road loss to Washington State. This will be perhaps their greatest test yet, especially without defensive tackle Josh Fatu (concussion) against a Notre Dame offense that averages 308 yards per game on the ground. For the Trojans, though, it will feel much more familiar — except they won’t have the comfortable confines of the L.A. Coliseum surrounding them.

Bust down the door

Since USC’s loss to Washington State, the Trojans have largely fallen out of the College Football Playoff discussion. But thanks to losses on the parts of Washington and Washington State, things are again wide-open for the Trojans to come out as the Pac-12 bid in the 4-team CFP. They can make quite the statement with a win over Notre Dame in a hostile environment, especially if it’s an emphatic, mistake-free victory. Nothing looks better on a resume than a road win over a ranked opponent, especially in a rivalry game. The door is still cracked open for the Trojans, but in order for the selection committee to take them seriously (should they run the table that exists between them now and CFP consideration in late-December), they need to bust it down with a big win over the Irish.

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