From a USC fan’s perspective, the 2005 edition of the rivalry game between the USC Trojans and Notre Dame Fighting Irish features two of the iconic plays in the history of the series. Both occurred on USC’s game-winning touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter. The first was a completion from quarterback Matt Leinart to wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett on 4th-and-9 to move the Trojans down the field and into scoring range. The second saw Leinart score the game-winning touchdown on a sneak into the endzone with the help of a push from running back Reggie Bush.
Forever known as the “Bush Push,” that play kept USC undefeated during the 2005 season and capped one of the great games in this rivalry.
With USC scheduled to host Notre Dame on Saturday in the Coliseum, Leinart took a trip down memory lane. Using USC Director of Football Operations Clarke Stroud and some USC equipment managers, Leinart recreated the “Bush Push.” If you really concentrate, you can hear the roar of 77,000 Notre Dame fans fall silent as Leinart tumbles backward into the endzone.
Leinart Breaks it Down
Leinart took some time before the reenactment to provide his memories of what he called his “favorite play.”
On the previous play, Leinart fumbled the ball out of bounds with seven seconds remaining. The clock ran to zero and Notre Dame players and fans rushed onto the field. There was some time taken to clear the field and setting the ball. USC didn’t have a timeout to use. So, the choice for the Trojans was to spike the ball and set up a final play, or sneak it. Leinart said he looked to the sideline at head coach Pete Carroll.
“He goes like this,” Leinart said, holding his hands out in a shoulder-shrug motion. “He knew I was going to spike it.”
Video shows Carroll then doing a ball spike motion repeatedly on the sideline.
But then Leinart heard from Bush, who approached him as the referees were still setting the ball.
“I go, ‘Reg, what should I do?'” Leinart recalled. “And he goes, ‘I got you.’ The rest is history.”
Leinart seemed stuffed on his initial sneak. But he spun to his left and into the path of Bush, who buried two hands into his chest and pushed him over the goal line. USC won the game 34-31.