SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Here's a quick breakdown of the first half, as USC has a 17-10 lead over Notre Dame.
Turning point: George Atkinson's 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with 3:22 left in the first half completely changed the tone of this game, as it got the Irish on the board and injected some juice into the stadium. The Irish responded by stopping USC on its next drive and then marching downfield, setting up a 24-yard David Ruffer field goal right before halftime.
Stat of the half: USC has outgained Notre Dame, 253-127. The Trojans have had their way offensively while the Irish had trouble getting anything going in the first half until their final drive, when they marched 68 yards in 10 plays and just 1:04. Notre Dame will need to build off that last drive as it closes the gap on what was once a 17-0 Trojans lead.
Best player in the half: Matt Barkley has completed 12 of 20 passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns, directing three USC scoring drives and giving the Trojans an early three-possession lead. Notre Dame did a better job of slowing down the Trojans' offense as the half progressed and will need to continue to do that to complete the comeback.