LOS ANGELES – Notre Dame is a quarter away from playing for the national championship.The Irish lead USC 19-10 entering the fourth quarter and can punch their ticket to Miami in the next 15 minutes.
Notre Dame couldn’t take advantage of two big defensive plays to start the second half.
Te’o intercepted his seventh pass of the season 54 seconds into the third quarter, but Brindza pushed a 34-yard field goal attempt wide right.
Notre Dame defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore came up with a big sack, knocking Wittek back for a 7-yard loss, to force USC to punt to the Irish’s 39.
But Notre Dame went three-and-out on the series and gave the ball back to USC on the Trojans’ 22 while the Irish clung to a 16-10 with 8:03 left in the third quarter.
The Irish got the ball right back when the Trojans went three-and-out, and Notre Dame pushed its lead to 19-10 as Brindza capped a 9-play, 70-yard drive with a 33-yard field goal with 31 seconds in the third quarter.
Eifert became Notre Dame’s most prolific tight end on the drive when he passed Ken MacAfee for the school record for receiving yards by tight ends with a 31-yard play. Eifert, who broke the school’s record for most catches by a tight end last week, has 1,775 receiving yards for his career.