November 28, 1998
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Without quarterback Jarious Jackson, Notre Dame tried to
beat intersectional rival Southern California with the bare semblance of a
The Trojans simply wouldn't allow it.
Chad Morton rushed for 100 of his 128 yards in the second half, and the USC
defense was at its best as the Trojans beat the No. 9 Fighting Irish 10-0
"I have no excuses," Notre Dame coach Bob Davie said. "We knew coming in
what kind of an effort was needed. We knew we could not make mistakes and turn
the ball over."
But the Irish did just that - committing five turnovers, four on
"They played their safeties up tight and took us out of our I'
formation," Davie said. "It became exclusively option football. They did the
right thing by putting nine people up front. We were limited, yet we still had
enough to win. SC played great defense."
It was the first time USC (8-4) has blanked Notre Dame since winning a 25-0
decision en route to the national championship in 1962.
The Trojans scored their 10 points on back-to-back possessions in the third
quarter. The Irish (9-2), whose hopes for Bowl Championship Series appearance
were snuffed out, couldn't overcome the absence of Jackson, who accounted 1,740
of the team's 1,775 passing yards previously.
Jackson was sidelined due to the knee injury he suffered in the waning
seconds of Notre Dame's 39-36 victory over LSU last weekend.
"There's nothing like defense, they were magnificent," USC coach Paul
Hackett said of team's performance. "It was very painful last week at UCLA (a
34-17 loss), but we have come back from every loss this season, which is the
mark of a championship caliber team."
Notre Dame didn't complete a pass until freshman Arnaz Battle threw a
28-yarder to Malcolm Johnson with 4:47 left in the third quarter.
Battle threw the third Irish interception on the next play, being picked off
by Rashard Cook, who also intercepted Battle's pass at the USC 14 midway
through the fourth quarter.
Battle and Eric Chappell combined to complete 7-of-22 passes for 94 yards,
with the four interceptions.
"I think the pressure got to Eric, and it was obvious," Davie said.
Said Battle: "We never had good field position, and that was our fault. I
underthrew our receivers. The USC defense dominated us."
Autry Denson, Notre Dame's career rushing leader, was held to 46 yards on 19
"Our passing game was almost nonexistent and Autry wasn't able to run well
with nine guys playing the run," Notre Dame quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford
said. "Battle made a few minor mistakes, but those always come with youth and
The win was the third straight for USC over Notre Dame after the Irish went
12-0-1 against the Trojans from 1983-95.
The game was scoreless until freshman quarterback Carson Palmer scored the
first touchdown of his career on a 2-yard bootleg, capping a 64-yard, five-play
drive on USC's second possession of the third quarter.
"We put in the play this week," Hackett said.
Palmer threw a 25-yard pass to R. Jay Soward before runs of 11, 21 and 5
yards by Morton put the ball at the Notre Dame 2.
Adam Abrams kicked a 23-yard field goal 3:18 later to complete the scoring.
Palmer completed 14-of-32 passes for 188 yards with two interceptions.
Morton, who gained 28 yards on six carries in the first half, averaged
nearly 5 yards on 20 second-half carries.
"I told the offensive line if I got 1,000 yards, I'd take them to Las
Vegas," said Morton, who finished the regular season with 967 yards rushing.
"We didn't get it, but I'm going to still take them. I may even take the
receivers and fullbacks."
Soward caught seven passes for 124 yards.
The scoreless tie at halftime was the first for the Trojans since the 1981
USC-Notre Dame game, and the first for the Irish since a game against Purdue
five years ago.
There were five turnovers in the opening 30 minutes - three by the Irish.
Chappell, a junior, started the game, but didn't play after being
intercepted for the second time on his third pass early in the second quarter.
The closest Notre Dame came to scoring was early in the second period, after
Kory Minor intercepted a pass by Palmer and returned it 7 yards to the USC 14.
Battle gained 14 yards on a second-and-12 play before fumbling, with Ken Haslip
recovering for USC.
Notre Dame had scored on 37 of its previous 40 trips inside an opponents'
20-yard line this season, and had no turnovers in the red zone in its first 10
The game was played before a crowd 90,069 at the Los Angeles Coliseum. It
rained much of the day, but let up before kickoff time.
Notre Dame leads the series 39-26-5, but USC is 15-14-3 since 1967.