No. 1 Notre Dame passed its final test of the season, beating host Southern California 22-13 to improve to 12-0 and punch its ticket to the BCS national championship game in Miami on Jan. 7.
Heisman Trophy hopeful and Notre Dame co-captain Manti Te'o led a defensive effort that held a high-octane USC offense to just 13 points en route to a 12-0 record to finish the regular season
Here is a collection of news and notes from the historic victory at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum:
• Notre Dame is one of only two Football Bowl Subdivision programs to finish the regular season with a 12-0 record. Ohio State did the same with a win over Michigan earlier in the afternoon, but is not eligible to compete in a bowl game because of NCAA violations. However unlikely, it’s plausible the Buckeyes can finish No. 1 in the Associated Press poll, but they aren’t eligible to be ranked in the USA Today poll.
• It’s only the second time in 125 years of football at Notre Dame that the Fighting Irish won their first 12 games of the season. The last time that happened was 1988, when head coach Lou Holtz guided the team to a 12-0 record and a national championship. Holtz and Brian Kelly are the only two Notre Dame coaches to post 12-0 records.
• This year’s Irish team is the 14th to go unbeaten and untied in a regular season in school history, joining a list that includes squads from 1889 (1-0), 1912 (7-0), 1913 (7-0), 1919 (9-0), 1920 (9-0), 1924 (9-0), 1929 (9-0), 1930 (10-0), 1947 (9-0), 1949 (10-0), 1973 (10-0) and 1988 (11-0).
• Notre Dame’s 10 points in the first quarter Saturday at USC were the most it had scored at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum since the national title season in 1988, when the Irish got out to a 14-0 lead in the opening frame.
• Freshman cornerback KeiVarae Russell was the first freshman in Notre Dame history to start a season opener at that position. He collected his second interception of the year against Southern California in the second quarter. He finished the regular season with 50 tackles (two for loss), half a sack and two passes broken up. Russell took over for junior Lo Wood, who ruptured his Achilles in fall camp. Russell, hailing from Everett, Wash., was originally recruited to play running back.
• Senior tight end Tyler Eifert returned to Notre Dame for his senior season instead of entering the 2012 NFL Draft. His All-America candidacy includes 44 receptions for 624 yards — both team highs — and four receiving touchdowns, which is tied with junior wideout T.J. Jones for the most on the team. Eifert had four catches for 69 yards against the Trojans, including a 35-yarder midway through the third quarter that gave him 1,779 career receiving yards. That total moves him past Ken MacAfee (1,759) and into first place on the all-time receiving yards list by a Notre Dame tight end. He has 12 catches for at least 20 yards this season and 29 of his 134 career snags (ND record for tight ends) have gone for at least 20 yards.
• Notre Dame sophomore starting quarterback Everett Golson is 10-0 this season. He did not start against Michigan on Sept. 22 because he was late for a team meeting during the week, and he did not play against Brigham Young on Oct. 20 because of a concussion suffered the previous week against Stanford. Golson’s 10 consecutive victories as a first-time starter rank second all time behind Bob Williams (1949-50), who registered 11 straight wins as a first-year signal caller.