ND's eye for detail overcomes USC

LOS ANGELES --You can't say the Trojans didn't have their chances.

In a game that mattered mostly for pride with an opportunity to prevent a fierce rival from advancing to the BCS title game, USC did enough to stay in the game to the end, but a series of missed opportunities resulted in the Notre Dame Fighting Irish coming away with a 22-13 victory.

This is not to take anything away from Notre Dame -- it showed exactly why it is an undefeated team that will advance to Miami next month with the No. 1 ranking in the country. The Irish are a disciplined football team -- they do not make mistakes, they are patient and they are strong on both sides of the line. They also have a really good red zone defense, as the Trojans found out with a dramatic goal-line stand that sealed the victory for Notre Dame.

The Trojans played the game with a redshirt freshman, Max Wittek, at quarterback, didn't get much production from Marqise Lee until a couple big plays at the end and were dominated in total offense (439 yards to 281) and time of possession (34:38 to 25:22). Even with that, USC fans will walk away from this game viewing the result as one that -- with a few plays here or there - could have gone the other way.

In many ways the outcome was a reflection of the issues that have plagued this USC team throughout the season, and are a key reason why the preseason No. 1 team in the country now sits with a 7-5 record. There were clock management issues, questionable play calls, a defense that gave up too many big plays at crucial times and, of course, turnovers.

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