Notre Dame football delivers a determined, decisive knockout punch of rival USC

SOUTH BEND – Staggering toward a bye week like someone who had spent too much time on a bar stool over at the Linebacker Lounge, or the Joyce South lot before kickoff, the No. 21 Notre Dame football team decided that it was time.

Time to flip the script and deliver an effort that few on the outside saw coming from a team that seemingly was too worn down and wounded. Time to play inspired and intelligent football one week after being so indifferent and invisible. Time to make USC quarterback Caleb Williams feel like he’d been tossed into play-making jail instead of turning the soggy surface of Notre Dame Stadium into his personal pass-happy playground.

Time to stop feeling sorry for themselves. Time to be everything they talked about this team being about this season. Time to bounce back with a beatdown of their most storied rival.

Time to show that they’re not done – or dead − just yet while delivering a 48-20 victory over No. 10 and previously undefeated Southern California in a game that was never close and still doesn’t seem real. Fireworks after this one went final? Really?

Notre Dame was solid on Saturday. Notre Dame was special on Saturday. Even the most hardened Subway Alum would have to squint to find much fault in this one. You just beat USC by four touchdowns. Can life for an Irish football fan be any better?

Saturday was everything that quarterback Sam Hartman believed it could be when he decided on one more year – a sixth – in South Bend. Long after this one went final, Hartman remained in full uniform, smiling wider and wider as the raucous celebration from the student body, who marched up the tunnel and out into the Northern Indiana night, kept surging.

“They’re riled up out there,” Hartman said. “It’s awesome.”

They also rushed the field – more like meandered from the north end…


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