USC and quarterback Sam Darnold’s turnover woes continued in a 49-14 loss to Notre Dame on Saturday. And the game probably ended USC’s College Football Playoff chances.
USC turned the ball over three times in the first half as Notre Dame raced out to a 28-0 halftime lead. Two of those turnovers were Darnold’s, as he fumbled in the first quarter and threw an interception in the second.
The other turnover was a fumbled punt by USC running back Ronald Jones. All three of those USC turnovers turned into Notre Dame touchdowns.
The Irish ran all over USC. Five of Notre Dame’s scores came on the ground and the Irish ran for 377 yards on 47 carries. Running back Josh Adams had 19 carries for 191 yards including an 84-yard touchdown that ended any hopes of a USC comeback in the third quarter.
Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush had 14 carries for 106 yards and two touchdowns while he was a fairly pedestrian 9-19 passing for 120 yards and two scores.
Oh, and most importantly, Notre Dame didn’t turn the ball over at all.
After Washington’s loss to Arizona State in Week 7, the Pac-12 became the only Power Five conference without an undefeated team. And now with USC’s loss to Notre Dame, the Pac-12 is guaranteed to only have one team — at most — end the season with one loss because Washington and Washington State play each other at the end of the season.
That’s an awful scenario for the conference’s College Football Playoff hopes since no two-loss team has ever made the four-team playoff.
Entering Saturday night’s game the Trojans might have been the Pac-12’s best hope for the playoff. A win over Notre Dame would have boosted USC’s strength of schedule and an undefeated run through the conference and a win in the conference title game would have undoubtedly put USC in the playoff.
Now, all of that’s out the window. USC’s hopes for a Pac-12 South title and a New Year’s Six bowl game are alive and well. But its playoff hopes aren’t.
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