Top 10 moments, No. 8: The dagger at Notre Dame

November, 30, 2011
11/30/11
12:27
PM PT
We're doing an ongoing series of the top 10 moments of the 2011 USC football season. No. 10 was Robert Woods' four-yard touchdown grab against Oregon. No. 9 was Curtis McNeal's 79-yard touchdown run against Washington.

Here, then, is moment No. 8: Robert Woods' 14-yard catch in the fourth quarter of the Notre Dame game in October.

This was what finished off Notre Dame, the dagger that dispatched the Fighting Irish.

It was, aesthetically, one of USC's most spectacular plays of the season. Up 24-17 with 7:55 left in the fourth quarter, quarterback Matt Barkley took a three-step drop on third and six and pump-faked a short fade to Woods over corner Lo Wood.

No one particularly bit, but Barkley took two more steps and delivered a pass that, at first, looked like it might be a bit too strong for Woods to corral. But Woods had gotten a clean release off the snap, and, with the added help of a perfectly-timed outstretched dive, he did bring in the ball just before his body hit the turf. Wood and safety Jamoris Slaughter ran over after he caught it, but it was far too late.

Woods had put the Trojans ahead 31-17, which would end up being the final score in South Bend as USC came into Notre Dame Stadium considerable underdogs and upset the Fighting Irish comfortably.

After his catch, as Notre Dame band members protested a few feet behind him, Woods hugged McNeal and ran to the USC sideline.

One minute later, Trojans cornerback Nickell Robey picked off an ill-advised Tommy Rees third-down pass and the game was just about over. Several McNeal runs ran out the clock.

The game against Notre Dame was arguably Woods' best of the season, considering the opponent, location and circumstances. He pulled in 12 catches for 119 yards and two scores -- the other coming on a short 3-yarder in the first quarter. But the telling statistic that made it a really impressive performance was this: On that night, no other USC receiver had more than two catches.

Not Marqise Lee, who had by far his worst game among the season's final nine contests. Not tight ends Xavier Grimble or Randall Telfer.

It was all Woods, as the fourth quarter demonstrated. This was one of his his -- and the Trojans' -- most shining moments.

Check back Tuesday for moment No. 7, which actually took place in two games.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?

2013 TEAM LEADERS

PASSINGATTCOMPYDSTD
C. Kessler361236296820
RUSHINGCARYDSAVGTD
J. Allen1357855.814
T. Madden1387035.13
RECEIVINGRECYDSAVGTD
M. Lee5779113.94
N. Agholor5691816.46
TEAMRUSHPASSTOTAL
Offense174.2218.1392.3
TEAMPFPAMARGIN
Scoring28.521.37.2