Barkley outduels Clausen as USC beats Notre Dame in thriller

Welcome to the party, Matt Barkley.

The freshman quarterback completed 19 of 29 passes for 380 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday in USC’s thrilling 34-27 victory over Notre Dame. Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen was also solid while completing 24 of 43 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns.

The Trojans made several stupid mistakes in this game, including a couple of costly and near-costly penalties in the second half. But Pete Carroll’s squad racked up 501 yards on the road in a hostile environment, which is incredibly impressive.

Pundits had been waiting for USC’s offense to break out of its shell with Barkley under center and that’s exactly what they did today. At one point in the third quarter, Barkley completed seven straight passes for 195 yards and connected with Damian Williams on a 41-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter to give the Trojans a 20-7 lead. That scoring drive was huge because its defense had just stuffed James Aldridge on a fourth-and-one-attempt inside the Trojans’ 30 and it was key to USC stealing the momentum.

While it’ll be hard for Charlie Weis and the Irish to stomach yet another loss to USC, Notre Dame has nothing to hang its head about. In the past, the Irish would have simply given up in the second half and allowed the Trojans to crush them. But Weis’ group kept fighting back on Saturday and even had several cracks inside the red zone to tie the game with seconds remaining in the fourth. This is a tougher Notre Dame team than we’re used to seeing.

With this win, USC keeps its national title hopes alive. Of course, the Oregon State team that has given the Trojans fits the past couple years is the next team on their schedule and then USC has to travel to Eugene to take on Oregon. So while this was a huge win for the Trojans, they’ve got a long way to go.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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