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Leftovers & Links: Notre Dame had everything to lose at USC, obviously didn’t

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LOS ANGELES — The talk heading into the weekend wrote off USC, including in these parts, and perhaps that should have been the obvious indication a tight first half could be on the way Saturday. After Notre Dame’s 24-17 victory, those undiscussed concerns were nothing but a memory, but they made sense, nonetheless.

Irish fifth-year center Sam Mustipher summed up that dynamic aptly.

“They had absolutely nothing to lose, and we had everything to lose, and we knew that,” Mustipher said. “We came out and grinded it out.”

This comes to mind while listening to the “Creed II” soundtrack, hearing an excerpt from the film itself including words of wisdom from the esteemed Rocky Balboa.

“You’ve got everything to lose,” he tells Adonis Creed. “When a fighter ain’t got nothing to lose, he’s dangerous.”

Was this just an excuse to mention the eighth official and sixth recognized installment from that franchise? Perhaps. But it also serves to retroactively remind why Saturday should not have been considered such a foregone conclusion, including (and especially) by yours truly.

But with that win, Notre Dame will be just the 10th team to reach the College Football Playoff in its fifth year. Maintaining a No. 3 ranking Tuesday night guarantees what was already assured.

A quick Chris Finke coincidence
The senior receiver has attempted two passes in his career. Saturday night was supposed to bring the third, but instead Finke tucked the ball and took a one-yard sack.

The first two attempts? Two years ago at USC, when he went 1-of-2 for four yards. Surely it is little more than a Coliseum coincidence, yet it elicits a chuckle all the same.

The Irish Troll
That moniker offers negative implications. It is not meant that way. Put it on par with an Irish Exit, a classy version of an often poorly-handled moment.

Rather than a revenge tour of any sort, Notre Dame celebrated a few of its wins this year with low-key social media burns. They were tasteful, succinct and delectable, otherwise known as a solid usage of Twitter.

A less subtle poke followed the USC victory, a jab not at the Trojans, but one playing to a popular piece of current college football lexicon. Quarterbacks coach Tom Rees did the honors, echoing a now-legendary Tom Herman tweet of, “Ok, cool. Hook em.”

Nuanced social media trolling? Yes, please.

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INSIDE THE IRISH READING
PLAYOFF BOUND: Notre Dame tops USC to finish unbeaten season
Things We Learned: 12-0 Notre Dame heading to the Playoff, as it long expected
Swarbrick’s patience leads to Notre Dame’s, Kelly’s success

OUTSIDE READING
Let’s ditch the hate and appreciate Playoff-bound Notre Dame’s 12-0 season
How Brian Kelly reinvented Notre Dame to reclaim national relevance
Notre Dame and USC, intersectional rivals turning in opposite directions ($)
… cementing what is easily Brian Kelly’s best coaching job
Recovering from injury, Alex Bars plays new role
Brian Polian meeting with Bowling Green
Florida State’s record bowl streak snapped at 36