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Monday, October 24, 2011
Weekend rewind: Notre Dame

By Matt Fortuna

It's time to take a look back at the weekend that was in Notre Dame football, as the 83rd meeting with rival USC ended with a 31-17 loss.

The Good: There wasn't a whole lot to point to on the field, but the recruiting implications from the first home night game in 21 years could be big. Brian Kelly said Sunday he received positive reactions from the recruits in attendance, with most of the comments centering around the atmosphere and home-field advantage Notre Dame helped to create. Said Kelly: "I think maybe for the first time since I've been here we clearly had that."

The Bad: Notre Dame rushed for just 41 yards, averaging 2.9 yards per rush. Starter Cierre Wood netted just 5 yards on five carries. On the other side, USC's ground game had its best performance of the season, rushing for 219 yards and averaging 5 yards per carry in what to many was a surprisingly impressive performance.

The Ugly: The yips returned again, with the Irish turning the ball over three times in the second half and killing any chance of completing a comeback from their early 17-0 deficit. The turnovers were particularly frustrating for Notre Dame given the Irish's consecutive no-turnover performances in their previous two games before Saturday's.

Turning point: The Irish faced a third-and-goal from the 1 and were about to tie the game. But Dayne Crist fumbled the snap from Braxston Cave and USC's Jawanza Starling took it back 80 yards for a Trojans touchdown and a 14-point turnaround.

Call of the day: This will anger and surprise many, but USC coach Lane Kiffin deserves a lot of credit for getting his team to focus on the field. Kiffin often referred to Saturday as an event for Notre Dame, and he was able to get his players to block out all of the extracurriculars and play their best game of the year.

Next up: Notre Dame hosts a Navy team coming off a 38-35 loss to East Carolina, its fifth consecutive defeat after a 2-0 start. Nonetheless, the Irish cannot overlook the Midshipmen, having dropped three of the last four meetings between the two. Navy also boasts the No. 3 rushing game in the nation.