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Sunday, November 25, 2012
What we learned about Notre Dame at USC

By Matt Fortuna

Notre Dame is 12-0 after a 22-13 win at USC. Here's what to make of it all.

1. Notre Dame is going to the title game. Seriously, who honestly thought that would happen this year? Athletic director Jack Swarbrick himself had said he thought that next year would be the year. I thought I was aiming high for the Irish this past summer when I picked an 8-4 record. Instead, this team has overcome quarterback issues, three season-ending secondary injuries and a ridiculous schedule to run the table and clinch a spot in the Jan. 7 national title game. Unreal.

2. Everett Golson continues to grow. Remember the Michigan game? Me, neither. The redshirt freshman is night and day from where he was earlier this season, and his solid performance Saturday night was something you'd expect out of a grizzled upperclassmen. Not Golson, who, we keep forgetting, has 40 potential starts left in a Notre Dame uniform.

3. Bend but don't break? Hardly. Notre Dame answered the bell again Saturday night when backed up to its goal line after two big Marqise Lee plays. Eight plays later, the Irish had withstood USC's challenge, keeping the Trojans out of the end zone and marching on to the national title game.

4. For now, wait and watch Saturday. The winner of Saturday's SEC title game between Alabama and Georgia is likely the Irish's opponent in the national title game. Yes, Notre Dame will be tasked with stopping the SEC's reign of six straight national titles. Some in America probably aren't OK with that, but they will surely be watching.