Irish playing better than usual against USC but ...

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- There's no question that Notre Dame is far more competitive today against USC than it has been in the recent past. The Irish have already about doubled their first downs from last year's game, and the defense is holding its own.

But USC is still awfully tough, especially on defense. Notre Dame had something going on its last drive. But on third and long, Jimmy Clausen got plenty of time from his offensive line against the blitz, but the Trojans' coverage was so good that he could only get a short pass.

Charlie Weis has his hands full trying to find a weakness in this defense. Notre Dame's only score so far came after a fake field goal.