Irish outlast Trojans, head to title game
Los Angeles • The Fighting Irish punched their ticket to Miami.
Theo Riddick rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown, Kyle Brindza kicked five field goals, and No. 1 Notre Dame secured a spot in the BCS championship game with a 22-13 victory over Southern California on Saturday night.
Everett Golson passed for 217 yards as the Fighting Irish (12-0) completed their first perfect regular season since 1988, earning a trip to south Florida on Jan. 7 to play for the storied program's first national title in 24 years.
Although they did little with flash on an electric night at the Coliseum, the Irish woke up more echoes of past Notre Dame greats with a grinding effort in this dynamic intersectional rivalry with USC (7-5), which has lost four of five.
Notre Dame's hard-nosed defense appropriately made the decisive stand in the final minutes, keeping USC out of the end zone on four plays from the Irish 1 with 2:33 to play.
After spending more than a decade looking up at the Trojans, the Irish are back on top of this rivalry with two straight wins in Los Angeles. The school of Knute Rockne, the Four Horsemen and Paul Hornung has new heroes now, from inspirational linebacker Manti Te'o to coach Brian Kelly, who took the Irish from unranked to start the season to No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time in 19 years.
Stanford 35, UCLA 17 • Stepfan Taylor rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns, Kevin Hogan passed for 160 yards and another score, and No. 11 Stanford beat No. 15 UCLA in Pasadena, Calif., to win the Pacific-12 Conference North title and a rematch with the Bruins in the conference championship game.
Taylor, a 5-foot-11, 215-pound senior who carried 20 times, didn't play in the fourth quarter. He raised his career rushing total to 4,134 yards and will need 36 yards in the rematch with UCLA to break the Stanford career rushing record of 4,169 yards.
Oregon 45, Oregon State 24 • In Corvallis, Ore., Kenjon Barner ran for 198 yards and two touchdowns for the Ducks (11-1, 8-1) despite leaving the game for a time with an injury, and De'Anthony Thoma ran for 122 yards and three scores.
Sean Mannion threw for 311 yards and a touchdown but was intercepted four times for the Beavers (8-3).
Oregon's win briefly kept alive its hopes for a spot in the Pac-12 title game, until Stanford beat UCLA and wrapped up the North division title.