SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Southern California wasn't good enough to overcome its mistakes and beat Notre Dame in South Bend for a sixth straight time. Not this time.
The Trojans were held scoreless in the second half of a 14-10 loss Saturday night, a disappointing finish for interim coach Ed Orgeron in his second game running the team since Lane Kiffin's dismissal.
"It seemed that every time we had a first down or something like that we had a holding call or jumped offside, we shot ourselves in the foot, and then it was second and 20," Orgeron said.
USC looked as if it might have a good scoring opportunity when safety Su'a Cravens forced Notre Dame running back Cam McDaniel to fumble and recovered the ball at the Notre Dame 34 with 6:27 left in the game. But USC had three penalties on the ensuing drive, including a holding penalty on a third-and-12 from the 23, a false start on fourth-and-15 and Cody Kessler was sacked for a seven-yard loss.
"It was just a frustrating game overall," USC right tackle Kevin Graf said.
Notre Dame's odds of winning didn't appear good when Tommy Rees was knocked out of the game when he was sacked with about 9 minutes left in the third quarter, but neither team scored in the second half and the Irish hung on. Rees was 14 of 21 passing for 166 yards with TD throws to Troy Niklas and TJ Jones in the first half.
Kelly said Rees sustained a neck strain. He said it will be a day or two before Rees knows how long he will be out.
"He's a little sore tonight, but he's clear and talking," Kelly said.
USC managed just 121 total yards of offense in the second half. After converting both third-down conversions on their opening scoring drive, the Trojans went 0-of-11 the rest of the game.
"We started trying to make stuff happen and it seemed like they always had a guy there," Kessler said. "We were killing ourselves with penalties and missed assignments. You can't win a game when you do that. If you can't convert on third down and keep drives alive, you can't really win a game and you can't put up points.
The Irish (5-2) beat the Trojans (4-3) for the third time in the past four games, after losing the previous eight straight, but won at home for the first time since Pete Carroll's first year as USC coach in 2001. This is the earliest the Trojans have three losses since starting that season 2-5.
"We have a hurt team in there," Orgeron said. "They gave it everything they had. "