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Week Twelve: USC

| Monday, January 31, 2011

LOS ANGELES — In the moments after Tommy Rees took a knee on his own three-yard line at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Saturday night, sophomore receiver Theo Riddick dropped to his knees. Other players jumped up and down. Most just sauntered towards the tunnel, the stands or each other, partaking in amazed hugs and handshakes.

On the strength of a late touchdown drive and countless key defensive stands, Notre Dame had beaten USC for the first time in nine years.

“When we were required to play our best, we came up with a big drive and a big stop,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said. “And that’s really what we’ve talked about all year. We cannot win unless all three units play football.”

Senior running back Robert Hughes ended a 77-yard drive with a five-yard touchdown to complete the scoring at 20-16.

The Trojans got the ball at their own 31-yard line with 2:16 left in the game. They drove to the Irish 23-yard line before senior safety Harrison Smith intercepted a pass from quarterback Mitch Mustain at the one-yard line. Three plays later, the game was over.

“I don’t think words do it justice. Everyone’s ecstatic,” said Rees, a true freshman who started for the third time this season. “It’s great for the seniors to go out with a win over USC. Words can’t describe how everyone’s feeling right now.”