True Hollywood Story

Originally Published: November 28, 2004
By Brad Edwards | Special to ESPN.com

Considering its proximity to Hollywood, you would think the University of Southern California would know how to make a better entrance.

For all it lacks in that department, you must admit that USC has mastered the other end of the equation. The Trojans sure know how to finish with style.

Not only has SC left the field on the winning side for 20 straight games, but it also has been a dominant team in the second half for most of that stretch -- especially against Notre Dame. The Trojans have beaten the Irish by exactly 31 points in each of the last three meetings, all following the same script. Notre Dame has been competitive for a quarter or two, but then USC has imposed its will in dominating fashion.

USC vs. Notre Dame
Trojans' finishing flurry
Year Start Finish
2002 ND led 13-10 34-0 USC run
2003 tied at 14 31-0 USC run
2004 ND led 10-3 38-0 USC run
On Saturday, the Irish led 10-3 about halfway through the second quarter. After that, it was all Trojans. USC scored the final 38 points of the game, just as it scored the final 31 last year and the final 34 in 2002.

The 38 unanswered points included five TD passes by Matt Leinart, who became only the second player ever to throw for five scores against Notre Dame. The first was Pittsburgh's Tyler Palko, who did it way back on Nov. 13, 2004 -- the Irish's previous game.

Chasing Liberty
A 38-0 run is impressive, unless, of course, you're Louisville and score the first 63 points of a game. The Cardinals did just that on Saturday against Cincinnati, cruising to a 70-7 victory. It was the fourth straight game with 55 or more points for Louisville, making it the first team to accomplish that feat since Alabama in 1945. Of course, it didn't seem so novel after Boise State scored 58 against Nevada later in the evening, giving the Broncos their own fourth straight game with 55 points or more.

It's all great news for the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, which figures to pit Louisville against Boise State on New Year's Eve, a matchup made possible by Utah's entrance to the BCS. Not only should both teams be ranked in the top 10 of the polls and the BCS, but they also are also likely to enter the game as the top two scoring offenses in the nation.

End Of An Era
All good things must come to an end, and they did for Nebraska with the loss to Colorado on Friday. The Cornhuskers finished the season at 5-6 and snapped two amazing streaks in the process. The longest run of consecutive bowl appearances in history is over at 35, as is the second-longest string of seasons without a losing record (42 straight).

Lasting Impressions
College GameDay Final's Trev Alberts, Mark May and Rece Davis weigh in with their biggest impressions from Saturday's action.

Trev's Take
Trev AlbertsFor the fourth time in seven years, the BCS is going to be a colossal failure. Not only will an undefeated team from a big-time conference be left out of the championship game, but a 10-1 Texas team is going to be out of the BCS mix altogether. The BCS may only have been designed to put the top two teams against each other, but if it's going to pretend that all four games are important, then the best eight teams should be playing in those games.

Mark's Take
Mark MayEveryone talks about the USC offense, but the adjustments Pete Carroll and his defensive staff consistently make at halftime may be the most impressive thing about this team. Not only have they been doing it all season, but this was the third straight year they shut out Notre Dame in the second half. This USC team is very good on both sides of the ball, and that's why it's the No. 1 team in the nation.

Rece's Take
Rece DavisThe Trojans have been doing it so long now that I've come to expect it. They remind me of a top-notch basketball team with their ability to go on big scoring runs in short periods of time and turn a close game into a rout. Whenever the opponent turns the ball over or misses a scoring opportunity, you can almost sense that it might be the critical mistake that ends the game. To beat USC, a team must not only be good ... it must also be resilient.
Breaking Away
Tulsa's Ashlan Davis took back yet another kickoff for a touchdown against UTEP on Saturday, his fifth this year. It extended his own NCAA record, as the only player ever to have more than three kickoff return TDs in a season.

Back, Bulls and Bowls
Perhaps the best player that most of the country has never seen is DeAngelo Williams of Memphis, who went over 200 yards rushing for the fourth time in his last seven games with a career-high 263 against South Florida. Williams increased his season total to 1,828 yards, which is a Conference USA record.

Memphis beat South Florida 31-15, ending the Bulls' hopes of becoming bowl eligible. USF has never been to a bowl in its brief history, and this could have been the time to do it, since almost every team in the country with six wins will be participating in the postseason. The Pac-10, SEC, Big 12 and Big Ten all failed to meet their quotas of eligible teams this year, which means more bids to go around for a conference like the MAC, which currently has three more eligible teams than it has places for within its bowl contracts.

There are 58 Division I-A teams eligible for 56 total bowl spots, but because Clemson and South Carolina removed themselves from bowl consideration last week, it's possible that everyone else with a winning record could be bowl bound. It's just another crazy chapter in what has been an unusual season.

Helmet Stickers
Trev:
Josh Hyman, Virginia Tech -- 2 TD catches vs. Virginia
Diamond Ferri, Syracuse -- 2 rush TD, 1 INT return for TD vs. Boston College

Mark:
Cedric Benson, Texas -- 165 rush yds, TD vs. Texas A&M
Matt Leinart, USC -- 400 pass yds, 5 TD vs. Notre Dame

Rece:
DeAngelo Williams, Memphis -- 263 rush yds, 2 TD vs. South Florida
Ashlan Davis, Tulsa -- 5th kickoff return TD this season vs. UTEP
Cam Hall, Boise State -- 2 INT returns for 116 yds, 1 TD vs. Nevada

Brad Edwards is the research coordinator for College GameDay Final and is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. College GameDay Final airs during the season at Midnight ET.

• Analyzes college football and the CFB Playoff as part of ESPN's Stats & Information Group
• Analyst for both College GameDay on ESPN Radio and the ESPN College Football app

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