- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
Y'all should know what No. 1 is by now …
The irony could not be lost: The preseason No. 1 team in the country found itself unranked heading into its regular-season finale against its arch-rival — the nation's new No. 1 team, which had actually entered the season unranked.
Theo Riddick carved up the USC defense for 146 rushing yards, Kyle Brindza hit five field goals, Notre Dame held Marqise Lee in check, Manti Te'o recorded his seventh interception and, with a little more than five minutes standing between Notre Dame and a perfect season, the Irish defense lined up in front of the end zone for one last stop.
As Brent Musburger said: "A goal-line stand for the ages."
Down 22-13, USC had a first-and-goal from the Irish 2.
A false start. A 3-yard rush. Consecutive defensive pass interference penalties. Two QB sneaks for nothing. A rush for no gain. An incomplete pass.
It took eight plays and three minutes, and afterward Notre Dame was celebrating another goal-line stand against a Pac-12 rival. Its tickets were punched to Miami, where the Irish would face Alabama in the Discover BCS National Championship.
They had completed the perfect journey in the regular season, overcoming what looked like a daunting schedule. Brian Kelly continued the trend of Irish coaches succeeding in their third season in South Bend, Ind.
Afterward, athletic director Jack Swarbrick spoke for everyone in saying that yes, this much success had come sooner than expected.
Things didn't end so well for the Irish against the Crimson Tide, but they and their fans will be able to hang onto this moment, and this season, forever.
From South Bend to Southern California, Notre Dame had marched on to South Beach, 12-0.
No. 10: Rees replaces Golson on final drive, leads Irish to win over Purdue
No. 9: Irish open season in Dublin with rout of Navy
No. 8: ND gets revenge on Robinson, UM in night win to cap perfect opening month
No. 7: ND survives missed FG, missed penalty and 3 OT scare from Pitt to stay perfect
No. 6: Notre Dame tours award circuit after perfect regular season
No. 5: Notre Dame joins ACC, will play five ACC games per year in football
No. 4: Irish rout Wake on Senior Day, ascend to No. 1
No. 3: Goal-line stand stuffs Stanford in OT
No. 2: Brown catch leads to big fourth in upset at OU
Y'all should know what No. 1 is by now …Nov. 24 2012: Goal-line stand halts USC, caps perfect season (Stories here, here, here, here, here and here)The irony could not be lost: The preseason No.