Kyle Brindza kicked the second-longest field goal in Notre Dame history as the first half ended, a 52-yard boot that put the Irish up 16-10 over USC at halftime.
If the Irish can hold on to the lead for 30 more minutes, they’ll clinch a spot in the national championship game in South Florida.
Irish quarterback Everett Golson was sharp, completing 14-of-22 passes for 181 yards, but appeared to have hurt his leg while avoiding the USC rush on the last snap before Brindza’s field goal. Theo Riddick, meanwhile, had a big half, with 67 rushing yards (including a 9-yard touchdown run in the first quarter) and 33 receiving yards.
USC quarterback Max Wittek, in for the injured Matt Barkley, threw incompletions on his first three passes before completing seven in a row, including a touchdown to Robert Woods. But his last pass, a 60-yard heave down the sideline, was intercepted by Notre Dame’s KeiVarae Russell, setting up the last drive for Brindza’s 52-yard kick.