USC has had a long and illustrious history with Notre Dame, but no quarterback has ever had as good an outing against the Irish as Cody Kessler did Saturday afternoon at the Coliseum.
Kessler helped the Trojans bounce back from a rough outing against UCLA to trounce Notre Dame, 49-14, throwing for six touchdown passes in just three quarters, the most ever against the Irish.
Kessler left halfway through the fourth quarter to a loud ovation from the crowd in the USC home finale, wrapping up his day 32-of-40 for 372 yards, a robust 9.3 yards per attempt. The damage he inflicted on a stumbling defense could have been far worse had head coach Steve Sarkisian really wanted to rub things in after hearing from a vocal majority of his fan base the past week.
Star receiver Nelson Agholor was once again the primary target in the passing game, running past an injured Irish secondary early and often, catching 12 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown. Running mate George Farmer had perhaps his best day in the cardinal and gold, racking up 85 yards on four catches with two touchdowns. Senior tight end Randall Telfer also had a touchdown catch in his final game in Los Angeles.
While it was a banner day for Kessler, it was one Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson would rather forget. He was under constant pressure from a tough front seven and completed just seven passes for 75 yards and tossed an interception before eventually being pulled from the game by coach Brian Kelly. Backup Malik Zaire came on and provided a spark for the Irish offense but was unable to dig the team out of such a deep hole.
One bright spot for the Irish might have been the play of left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who did an admirable job against the Trojans' pass rush, catching the eye of NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah during the game.
Leonard Williams, a junior and one of USC's top prospects, played in what could have been his final game at home. He was active in consistently drawing double-teams but didn't have as good a game as he did last week. On the other hand, senior linebacker J.R. Tavai went out with a bang by racking up three sacks and forcing several other quarterback pressures.
The Trojans have been fairly disappointing this season overall, but picking up their eighth win in grand style against a rival like Notre Dame will no doubt be a nice boost as they head into bowl practices in December.