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Notre Dame and USC rekindled their relationship Saturday night as the teams met in South Bend after having to skip the annual series last fall due to the pandemic.
Notre Dame drove the length of the field on their opening drive before missing a field goal, forced a three-and-out of USC, and then drove down the field for a score.
The Irish were in control despite letting things get a bit more interesting than they’d have liked in the fourth quarter. Here are my five instant takeaways from the — win that moves Notre Dame to 6-1.
5. Bo Bauer's Wheels
Photo courtesy of Notre Dame athletics
It appeared USC was about to march right down field and tie things at seven after Notre Dame’s first touchdown of the game but Myron Tagovalioa-Amosa’s pressure forced a bad pass from Kedon Solvis that was picked off by Bo Bauer and nearly returned the length of the field for a score.
I’ll be honest – I didn’t think Bauer could move as quickly as he did.
As things played out in this one, the potential 10-point swing that came from that play was massive in Notre Dame being in control nearly all evening instead of involved in a shootout.
4. Joe Alt Love
Just like we all thought entering the year, it’s been a blast to watch Notre Dame’s left tackle develop throughout the year as a true-freshman. It just so happens that the true-freshman that is doing it is the much less notable Joe Alt who was only originally inserted into the position out of desperation.
I know USC’s defensive front isn’t going to be confused for Wisconsin’s anytime soon but credit where credit is due. For those who have been all over the offensive line and unit coach Jeff Quinn, Alt has been a success in development this team has been desperately needing.
3. Kyle Hamilton's Injury
What else needs to really be said? Kyle Hamilton left the game on USC’s second possession of the contest and didn’t return to action despite being said to be questionable and not out.
We shared a video earlier tonight that showed Hamilton walking very gingerly off the field at halftime. Now we wait for postgame comments and what the extent of this injury may be.
2. Quarterback Play
Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
It’s a position that has brought plenty of questions the majority of this season but much like I said above about the offensive line, can we give some praise when things go well?
The game plan for Jack Coan was much better. Early in the year it wasn’t quick drops that Notre Dame tried to attack with, but pushing the ball downfield far too often for my liking was. Coan was much better out of the gates tonight than he was in his last showing at Virginia Tech, at least at the start, but short drops and quick routes do him wonders.
As for Buchner there is still a lot of meat on the bone in terms of what he’ll actually be running in even a few short weeks compared to now. With that said, as limited as he was tonight (will get official snap count later), Buchner was more effective, although I think the defensive front Notre Dame was playing against had some to do with that. With that said, it’d be more concerning had the efficiency not been there.
1. Kyren Williams
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images
Kyren Williams hasn’t had the easiest path to whats becoming a very strong year but he’s been as good as he’s ever been in blue and gold.
Williams went off for a season-high 138 yards while rushing for a pair of scores but yet again, it was the other little things that he does so well. When you see the Buchner touchdown run that put the game on ice, there was Williams out in front lead blocking like fullback for his quarterback.
As a whole this was the offense’s most complete game to date and to me it all starts with Williams playing to his potential.