USC vs. Notre Dame: Winners and Losers from Trojans' Win over Irish

Jake Little@@jakelittleContributor IIIOctober 23, 2011

USC vs. Notre Dame: Winners and Losers from Trojans' Win over Irish

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    There was a lot to take away from USC's 31-17 victory against Notre Dame on Saturday. Lane Kiffin and the Trojans went into South Bend, Ind. and executed their game plan to perfection.

    With many great performances, it is tough to identify the key players that made the Trojans' victory possible.

    The following is a list of winners and losers from the Trojans' victory on Saturday.   

USC: Winner

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    This was a quality win for Lane Kiffin and the USC Trojans. The Southern California outfit improves to 6-1 on the season with the victory on Saturday. 

    The Trojans' only loss was in Tempe, Ariz. to Pac-12 South co-leaders Arizona State.

    It was a welcome victory, and the Trojans will be looking forward to returning home after consecutive road victories.

    Kiffin and his team will now start to focus on next week's game, where the Trojans will host Andrew Luck and Stanford.  

Notre Dame: Loser

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    Notre Dame will be disappointed with the manner in which it lost this game. Turnovers and a lack of offensive quality resulted in the Irish being handed their first loss in the last four games. 

    Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly spoke dismally about his team's performance after the game, implying that there will definitely be some extended time on the practice field in the upcoming week. 

    With USC being one of Notre Dame's stronger opponents, it was critical that the Irish pick up the win; however, luck was just not on its side. 

Matt Barkley: Winner

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    Matt Barkley looked like a Heisman Trophy candidate on Saturday. The Newport Beach native was instrumental in helping his USC Trojans to the victory. 

    Barkley went 24-of-35 in pass attempts and threw for 224 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. 

    The third-year starter also orchestrated the drive that would eventually kill off Notre Dame, culminating in a 14-yard touchdown pass to Robert Woods. 

    If USC has any ambitions of competing with visiting Stanford next week, Barkley will have to turn in an equally impressive performance. 

Robert Woods: Winner

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    Robert Woods had a sensational game for the Trojans on Saturday. After the game, Woods surpassed his 2010 numbers for receptions, touchdowns and receiving yards.  

    The second-year receiver hauled in a game-high 12 receptions for 119 yards. He caught two of Matt Barkley's three touchdown passes in the process. 

    Woods was a major contributor to the Trojan offense, and his sure hands provided Barkley with a safe option for the game.

    Woods will be on to watch when Stanford travels south to visit the Trojans.  

Notre Dame Rushing Game: Loser

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    The Notre Dame rushing game was absolutely hopeless against the visiting Trojans' defense. 

    The running backs combined for a dismal 50 yards on a combined 10 carries. Although they were able to punch in a touchdown, they were a non-factor for most of the game.

    If Notre Dame hopes to win any of its tougher upcoming games, such as the road game at Wake Forest, the team is going to need the rushers to start picking up some slack. 

USC Defense: Winner

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    The USC defense stepped up big. The defense, that at certain points this season has looked suspect, really came through for Lane Kiffin and the Trojans. 

    The Trojans' defense allowed just 41 rushing yards to the Fighting Irish. 

    On top of that, they forced three turnovers, one of which gave the Trojans a commanding 24-10 lead with 53 seconds left in the third quarter.

    USC's defense has made strides and improved since the beginning of the season. It was a huge reason for the Trojans' victory in Indiana on Saturday. 

Pac-12: Winner

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    Stanford, Oregon and Arizona State especially will be thanking the Trojans for their victory in Indiana. 

    USC's win adds some legitimacy to the conference. East Coast BCS voters respect Notre Dame (I don't know why). A Pac-12 team going into South Bend and coming out with a victory is very valuable to the conference. 

    The old Pac-10 (now Pac-12) was never respected by BCS voters. Viewed by the nation as a weak conference, this victory provides a quality win that is going to help other teams come bowl season.