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Kessler, Trojans rout Fighting Irish

USC QB’s 6 TD passes most ever against ND

Southern California quarterback Cody Kessler had banner day. (Associated Press)
Southern California quarterback Cody Kessler had banner day. (Associated Press)
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES – After a tumultuous season of last-second losses and big-game disappointments, Southern California took the Coliseum field playing only for respect and history against Notre Dame.

That’s more than enough motivation in this famed rivalry, and Cody Kessler put his name into Irish football lore while he led the Trojans’ romp.

Kessler passed for 372 yards and threw two of his six touchdown passes to George Farmer, propelling USC to a 49-14 victory over Notre Dame on Saturday in the 85th edition of the rivalry.

Adoree Jackson, Darreus Rogers and Nelson Agholor also caught TD passes in a dynamic first half for the Trojans (8-4), who jumped to a 35-0 lead in the second quarter.

“When everyone is in tune, this offense is capable of anything,” Kessler said. “You saw it today.”

USC easily reclaimed the Jeweled Shillelagh after two straight losses to the Irish, piling up 577 yards against Notre Dame’s injury-plagued defense.

“Our future is ridiculously bright,” said USC coach Steve Sarkisian, who won his first shot at Notre Dame. “We’re going to be really good, and we’re not going anywhere.”

With Kessler’s second-half scoring throw to Randall Telfer, Notre Dame yielded six TD passes for the first time in the program’s 127-year history.

That defensive low caps a miserable second-half slide for the Irish (7-5), who have lost five of their last six games.

“We have to remember where we are after today’s loss,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “It’s a red-letter day for our football players and coaches. Two years ago, we were playing for a national championship. Today we got our butts beat, and it wasn’t as close as the score. I thought Coach was very generous today to keep running the football to keep the score where it was.”

Everett Golson struggled mightily before Malik Zaire replaced him late in the first half with Notre Dame already trailing by 35. Zaire led a scoring drive and had 170 yards passing, providing hope for the future.

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