Halftime: USC 17, Notre Dame 10
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.
ABOUT THIS BLOG
Powers is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997. He joined ESPNChicago in May 2009 and lives in Chicago.
Rittenberg joined ESPN.com in 2008 after four years at the Daily Herald, where he covered sports at Notre Dame, Northwestern, DePaul and several other colleges. He lives in Chicago and writes for the Big Ten blog.
Bennett joined ESPN.com in August 2008 after nine years at The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., where he covered college sports and the University of Louisville beat. He lives in Louisville and writes for the Big Ten blog.
Fortuna joined ESPN.com in 2011 after working for MLB.com and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, where he covered college sports. He grew up in New York and is a Penn State graduate. Fortuna's Notre Dame blog is here.
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