Trojans’ Max Wittek shows promise; Manti Te’o reaches tackles milestone
By Mark Lazerus Sun-Times Media November 24, 2012 11:25PM
Updated: November 25, 2012 12:07AM
LOS ANGELES — USC redshirt freshman quarterback Max Wittek talked a big game leading into Saturday night, exuding confidence and even saying the Trojans would win.
But he looked like exactly what he is — a highly touted, highly talented quarterback making his first career start.
His first throw had a bit too much adrenaline on it, missing Robert Woods high and hard on an easy flare route. His second throw was a 60-yard bomb to Marqise Lee that Notre Dame’s Bennett Jackson broke up in the end zone. His third pass fell short.
But after that, Wittek started to look like the future star USC expects him to be. He completed his next seven passes, including an 11-yard touchdown pass to Woods, capping an impressive six-play, 75-yard drive that cut the Notre Dame lead to 10-7.
He again showed his big arm late in the first half, heaving another 60-yarder down the sideline, but it needed to be about 65 yards — Notre Dame’s KeiVarae Russell picked it off. That turnover set up Notre Dame for a nice two-minute drill, capped by Kyle Brindza’s 52-yard field goal at the horn.
Early to rise: Notre Dame finished the regular season without giving up a single first-quarter touchdown. USC’s first score came on the first play of the second quarter. Only Miami, Oklahoma and Pitt (three points each) got anything against the Irish defense in the opening quarter.
More history for Te’o: Irish linebacker Manti Te’o recorded his 100th tackle of the season during the second quarter, becoming only the third player in school history to reach the century mark in three straight seasons.
Big boot: Brindza’s 52-yard field goal at the end of the first half was the second longest in Notre Dame history. It was his third field goal of the game, and 21st of the season, matching John Carney’s Notre Dame single-season record, set in 1986.