The Heis guy hit a low point.
The No. 21 Notre Dame Fighting Irish made sure of that Saturday night by pinning down the NCAA’s top-rated player, Caleb Williams, and making him look flat in a decisive 48-20 victory over the No. 10 USC Trojans.
The USC QB and reigning Heisman Trophy winner tossed three interceptions as part of a five-turnover night for the visitors to South Bend, putting the Trojans’ push for a berth in the College Football Playoff in serious peril.
“I told (my) guys every play, just compete against that guy (Williams),” Notre Dame’s second-year head coach Marcus Freeman told reporters after the game. “He’s going to make plays. He’s a great football player. But be relentless in terms of your effort and your attitude on how you attack that guy. To come up big with five turnovers is really impressive.”
The Irish defence was swarming, holding the usually sensational Williams to just 199 passing yards in a 23-of-37 effort. The three INTs produced by Notre Dame were accompanied by recoveries on balls fumbled away by Trojans Quinten Joyner and Mario Williams — which was recovered for a touchdown by senior safety Xavier Watts.
On offence, Notre Dame got two TD passes from QB Sam Hartman and two TD runs from Audric Estime.
And on special teams, it was Jadarian Price with the fourth-quarter dagger — a 99-yard kickoff return to paydirt.
All in all, it was a nice recovery by the Golden Domers after last week’s shocking loss to the host Louisville Cardinals knocked them out of the final-four hunt.
“I think the entire team was hungry — we had a sour taste in our mouth,” Freeman told reporters. “I told this group, élite competitors don’t care what happened the week before. It’s our choice to make sure we do have the mental discipline and the mental toughness to do what it takes to have success. And credit to these players — they worked their tails off.”
Notre Dame improves to 6-2, while USC takes a huge hit to its CFP hopes in dropping to 6-1.
SECOND & LONG
With the USC loss, No. 7 Washington (6-0) is suddenly the leading final-four candidate from the Pac-12. UDub helped its cause immensely Saturday with a massive 36-33 victory over No. 8 Oregon (5-1) in Seattle. A 43-yard field-goal miss by Oregon kicker Camden Lewis at the buzzer won it for Washington. “If there’s one (win) that I’ve been a part of that was bigger or better, I can’t think of it right now,” Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer told reporters post-game. “This moment right now is something that’s really special for our program.” It’s a special result for UDub in the CFP race, to boot … Also in the powerful Pac-12: No. 15 Oregon State (6-1) dropped No. 18 UCLA (4-2) to the two-loss ranks with a 36-24 home win; reigning two-time conference champ Utah (5-1) — the No. 16 team — stayed in the hunt with a 34-14 drop of visiting California (3-4); and road-warrior Arizona (4-3) unloaded on No. 19 Washington State (4-2) 44-6 for the upset of the day … Who’s looking good in the SEC at 6-1? Mizzou, that’s who, after Missouri (6-1) earned a 38-21 road win over No. 24 Kentucky (5-2) in another upset of sorts.
THIRD & GOAL
The top-four teams in the nation didn’t sleep-walk through their early games Saturday. No. 1 Georgia (7-0) topped host Vanderbilt (2-6) 37-20. No. 2 Michigan (7-0) strong-armed host Indiana (2-4) 52-7. No. 3 Ohio State (6-0) slammed host Purdue (2-5) 41-7. And No. 4 Florida State (6-0) hammered visiting Syracuse (4-3) 41-3. Respective QBs Carson Beck, J.J. McCarthy, Kyle McCord and Jordan Travis all passed for at least 222 yards, with Travis tops at 284 … The best tight end in the college ranks, Georgia’s Brock Bowers, was sidelined by an ankle sprain. X-rays came back negative, but that could hurt the national champion’s chances for a three-peat … Also winning early was No. 11 Alabama (6-1) but not easily, as Nick Saban’s gang held on at home to edge Arkansas (2-5) 24-21. “We should be dominating games rather than just winning games,” Alabama offensive lineman Tyler Booker told reporters post-game. “And there’s a difference.”
FOURTH & INCHES
An early slobberknocker saw Iowa (6-1) with a 15-6 dump of host Wisconsin (4-2) … Afternoon action saw: No. 6 Penn State (6-0) slam visiting Massachusetts (1-7) 63-0; No. 19 Tennessee (5-1) top much-maligned Jimbo Fisher and visiting Texas A&M (4-3) 20-13; and host Oklahoma State (4-2) dump No. 23 Kansas (5-2) 39-32 … The evening slate also saw: host Pittsburgh (2-4) punch No. 14 Louisville (6-1) 38-21; No. 22 LSU (5-2) smash visiting Auburn (3-2) 48-18; No. 12 North Carolina (6-0) drop No. 25 Miami (4-2) 41-31; and No. 17 Duke (5-1) handle NC State (4-3) 24-3 … Colorado (4-3) sure has a flair for the dramatic, both good and bad. Coach Prime’s crew vaulted out to a 29-0 halftime lead Friday night before allowing lowly Stanford (2-4) to come all the way back against a porous defence to steal a 46-43 overtime victory out of Boulder. And that brought on the quote of the day from Deion Sanders. “We come back out (after intermission), and here comes complacency,” ‘Prime Time’ told reporters. “Here comes that team that I can’t stand, that you can’t stand. You can’t understand how in the world that happens to us. But it did. We can’t sit down and have no pity party.”