Trojans Cody Kessler Lights Up Notre Dame; Irish Lose 49-14


A regular season that held so much promise for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish six weeks ago finally came to it’s agonizing end on Saturday. The Southern Cal Trojans and Cody Kessler picked apart a ragtag defense en route to a 49-14 blowout.

The Irish (7-5), once among the conversations for a CFP spot stumbled to the finish line this season, losing five of their last six games. Once considered a Heisman candidate, Everett Golson found himself benched in the first half, making way for Malik Zaire. Notre Dame will have most starters returning next season, but that point is moot as the Trojans (8-5) reclaimed the Jewelled Shillelagh in the 85th meeting between the two teams.

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The Trojans junior quarterback immediately went to work on the depleted Irish defense, essentially going after freshman at every position. Before the Irish knew what hit them, it was 35-0 before the end of the second quarter. Golson found himself on the bench after turning the ball over two more time before coach Brian Kelly had seen enough. Zaire led the Irish to a scoring drive, completing a 49-yard pass on his first collegiate throw, later running it in from 11-yards out for an Irish score.

Zaire would finish 9-for-20 passing for 170 yards, and  18 yards rushing including the score. The heir apparent to the position once Golson graduates, that timeframe could be sped up with Golson’s turnover issues.

The rarely spotted Greg Bryant led the Irish ground game with 79 yards on seven carries and a touchdown. Bryant was the only back to show any success against the Trojans, who avenged two consecutive losses to the Irish with the win for the senior class.

Kessler’s six touchdowns went to five different receivers, as he finished 32-of-40 with 372 yards. Nelson Agholor pulled in 12 catches for 120 yards to go along with his one TD reception. Two of George Farmers four catches were good for scores as the Trojan offense had it’s way with Irish defense.

The Irish defense surrendered over 30 points for the seventh straight game, going 2-5 in those contests. Today’s game was the most lopsided, as unlike the small comeback against Arizona State, the Irish couldn’t stop the Trojans, allowing 577 yards of total offense.

The season can only be summed up as a disappointing disaster. Granted, injuries to the defense played a large part in the struggles of the Irish. But the regression of Golson was very troubling, and the inability of the offensive line to ever gel as a unit didn’t help matters. But poor calls by the coaching staff, mental breakdowns on the field, and a lack of urgency doomed the Irish to the finish they had.

Notre Dame will find themselves in a bowl game this year. But which one it will be is the question. The Irish are odd men out due to conference tie-ins, so don’t be surprised if you don’t recognize the name of the Bowl when it’s announced.