Weis, Clausen, Smith reflect on heartbreaking loss to USC

It’s perhaps the toughest Sunday for this group of Notre Dame football players in their careers---perhaps tougher than the day after losing to Navy two years and the day after losing to Syracuse last year.

This one was different.

Those were devastating losses to bad teams---this was a heartbreaking loss to the 6th ranked team in the country. A victory would have meant so much.

On Saturday, the Irish almost made a remarkable and historic comeback but almost isn’t a win.

"USC is one of the best teams in the country and you are down by three scores,” head coach Charlie Weis said putting in perspective what his team almost did.

Despite the scoring being 34-14 in the 4th quarter, the cardiac kids somehow came back, quickly chipping away to pull within seven. In the final minute, they drove down field and had their shot to win it.

"if you would have told me before the game, ‘hey, you are going to have the ball down at the five yard line at the end of the game with a chance to tie or win’, I probably would have taken that,” Weis said.

Especially with Jimmy Clausen at quarterback.

But this time, this week, the pass went incomplete and the remarkable stretch of thrilling wins came to an end.

"You know it’s just a heart breaker period,” Clausen said. “Whether you come back from seven points or how ever many we did, it’s just a tough loss."

Clausen is part of a junior class that were freshman for the loss to Navy and sophomores for the loss to Syracuse. Linebacker Brian Smith is in that class too. He said after the game, this was definitely the most devastating loss of his career.

"This is a huge game and we lost and it hurts,” Smith explained. “You gave everything you had, and you still lost. It’s like everything you had still wasn't enough."

Five straight games the Irish have had to give everything they have until the final second. It began with a loss at Michigan, then three straight wins, then yesterday.

The end result---just a 3-and-2 record during this wild 5-game stretch.

"when you are living on the edge, which is the way these comes have come down---when you are living on the edge, it's not going to turn out great every time,” Weis said.

Captain and center Eric Olsen said after the game the team has no choice but to bounce back immediately. They’ve shown after the loss to Michigan, they can do that.

And the next opponent on the schedule will help in getting the Irish back on track.

BC is coming to down. Like USC, the Eagles have owned Notre Dame lately, winning six straight games in the series.

It’s a 3:30 kickoff next Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium. Countdown to Kickoff gets you started at 2:30.


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