Instant analysis: USC 34, Notre Dame 27

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Instant analysis from USC's 34-27 win at Notre Dame.

How the game was won: As is their usual practice, the Irish made this game come down to the last second. Literally. They had the ball at the USC 4 with nine seconds to play. They squeezed off three plays in that time, but Jimmy Clausen's three pass attempts into the end zone all came up empty, including a last-ditch effort to Duval Kamara after one second was put back on the clock. USC held on -- barely.

Player of the game: Matt Barkley. The USC true freshman outdueled Clausen, completing 19 of 29 passes for 380 yards and two touchdowns. He completed seven straight passes in the third quarter for 195 yards.

Unsung hero of the game: Notre Dame wideout Robby Parris made several huge catches, including a fourth-down grab on the final drive despite being piledrived by USC safety Taylor Mays. Parris helped make up for Michael Floyd's absence with nine catches for 92 yards.

Turning point: The Irish opened the second half with a strong drive inside the Trojans' 30. But James Aldridge got stuffed on a fourth-and-1 attempt, and USC then drove the other way for a touchdown and a 20-7 lead.

What Notre Dame learned: The Irish are tougher and more talented than they've been in years and are inching closer to teams like USC. But they're still not quite there yet. In the end, it's another difficult loss to a top 10 team.

What USC learned: The Trojans are still in the national title hunt, and now they know that they can rely on Barkley to win a game for them if needed.