S.C. Zuba: Notre Dame claims moral victory in loss

By S.C. Zuba

Sports Columnist

No. 6 USC visited No. 25 Notre Dame last Saturday, Oct. 17, in what was supposed to be a “must win” for the Irish and head coach Charlie Weis.

The Irish didn’t win, but they certainly made me eat my words from my previous column. Last week, I stated that if the Irish could keep it within three touchdowns, it would be a moral victory.

Well, the Irish not only kept it close, but they had a legitimate chance to win.

Notre Dame trailed for most of the game, but scored 13 points in the fourth quarter to come within one touchdown of the Trojans.

Quarterback Jimmy Clausen marched the Irish down the field in the final seconds of the game while they trailed 34-27 and had two shots at the end zone to tie the game and send it to overtime.

Both attempts were unsuccessful by the Irish.

With the loss, Notre Dame fell out of the top-25 rankings. There are, however, a few positives that can be taken from the defeat.

Clausen was 24 of 43 for 260 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions against one of the top-rated defenses in the country. With his solid performance, Clausen maintained his standings in the Heisman race and solidified his chances at being a top selection in the NFL draft if he chooses to enter it.

Junior Golden Tate caught eight passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns. Tate’s most impressive catch of the game included a 45-yard touchdown reception where Clausen split two defenders to place the ball in Tate’s hands.

Even with the loss, Tate is focusing on the future.

“We didn’t get it done, so what’s the next step? Hang your heads and throw the season away?” Tate said. “No. We’re going to come out ready to prepare for Boston College.”

Boston College, 5-2, is coming off a big win against North Carolina State and will look to keep their momentum going in South Bend, Ind.

It is essential for the Irish to shake off the tough loss against the Trojans and focus on winning this week.

I believe Tate said it best: “We didn’t want to lose, but that’s what happened. What can we do now? Just move on.”

Share your thoughts with S.C. Zuba via e-mail at samuelczuba@yahoo.com.

From the October 21-27, 2009 issue

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