LOS ANGELES — More than 40 years ago, USC tailback Anthony Davis owned Notre Dame.
In 1972, he scored six touchdowns against the Fighting Irish in a 45-23 USC victory. Even when the Irish scored they weren’t safe from Davis, who returned two kickoffs for touchdowns that day.
Two years later, Davis scored four more times against the Irish as the Trojans rebounded from a 24-0 deficit to win, 55-24, in what is still my favorite college football game ever.
In that game, Davis caught a touchdown pass from Pat Haden just before halftime to pull the Trojans to within 24-7.
Davis then returned the second half kickoff 100 yards for another touchdown and the comeback was officially on. Davis later scored on two short runs, giving him 10 touchdowns in two games against Notre Dame. (He scored once in 1973, giving him 11 career touchdowns, the most any individual opponent has ever scored against the Irish.)
I bring up Davis today because USC defensive back Adoreé Jackson had a Davis-like performance against Notre Dame Nov. 26.
Jackson scored three times against the Irish — on a punt return, a 52-yard touchdown pass from Sam Darnold and on a kickoff return — as the Trojans defeated Notre Dame, 45-27.
Jackson, who was named the Pac 12 defensive player of the year Nov. 29, scored his first touchdown just before halftime when he picked up a short punt on the second bounce and sprinted 55 yards for a touchdown without being touched.
Seventeen seconds later, USC safety Ajene Harris stepped in front of a DeShone Kizer pass and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown and what had been a close 10-7 game became 24-7 just like that.
Jackson was just getting warm, though.
In the third quarter he caught a short swing pass from Darnold and sprinted down the sideline for another touchdown. Later in the quarter, after he got beat deep on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Kizer to Kevin Stepherson, he took the ensuing kickoff and raced 97 yards for another touchdown in what was probably his last performance in the Coliseum as a Trojan.
A junior, Jackson is expected to make himself eligible for the National Football League draft next year. It’s only a question of what position he will play in the NFL.
As he showed Saturday, Jackson sometimes is susceptible to the deep pass, probably because he usually can make up for mistakes with his great speed.
But Jackson’s ability to run has to make some NFL general managers and coaches wonder what he could do playing on offense most of the time.
USC has used him on offense all three of his seasons here, but he always has been, first and foremost, a defensive back who returns kicks.
In the NFL, he could make a lot of money as a kick returner/third-down running back who would strike fear in the hearts of defensive coordinators around the league.
Jackson won’t know where his next game will be played until the bowl schedule is completed this weekend. While many Trojan fans are holding out hopes that a series of upsets this weekend could put the Trojans into fourth place in the College Football Playoff rankings. I don’t see that happening.
The Trojans are currently 11th in the rankings so they need to jump over seven teams to get to fourth. And four of those seven teams — Colorado versus Washington and Oklahoma versus Oklahoma State — face each other. If number 8 Colorado defeats Washington, the Trojans won’t skip past both those teams, even though it defeated both of them.
The same thing holds true with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Both of those teams have only two losses, compared to the Trojans with three.
The best-case scenario USC fans can hope for is a Colorado win over Washington, which knocks Washington out of the playoff, and then Rose Bowl officials choose the Trojans to play Jan. 2 against Michigan, Wisconsin or Penn State from the Big 10 Conference.
Otherwise, it looks like the Trojans are headed to the Alamo Bowl Dec. 29.
DICKERSON-FISHER: The feud that erupted this week between former Rams Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson and head coach Jeff Fisher shows what sports talk radio can generate.
It’s basically a molehill that became a mountain only because Dickerson still knows how to create news on or off the field.
In a nutshell, Dickerson requested sideline passes from the Rams for the Nov. 20 for someone who had done him a favor. Dickerson does a weekly show on KLAC 570 Radio in which he has become increasingly critical of the Rams as they have fallen to 4-7 after a 3-1 start.
On behalf of the Rams, Fisher called Dickerson and told him not to expect favors from the Rams if he was going to be critical of them on his radio show.
That would have been it except Dickerson decided to go public with the story Nov. 28 and soon it was the biggest story in town, especially after Dickerson went on KLAC’s evening show that night and said he would never go to another Rams game as long as Fisher is the head coach.
The Rams didn’t deny Dickerson sideline passes for himself. They denied sideline passes for someone who had done Dickerson a favor.
It was not the kind of publicity the Rams want or need after losing six of their last seven games and traveling to Foxborough this week to face the New England Patriots.
Dickerson remains one of the most popular former Rams players, probably the last star the team had in Los Angeles.
Fisher has probably worn out his welcome with Rams fans and will need a miracle in the last five weeks to save his job.
Chances are Dickerson will be back on the sidelines for Rams games. Next year.
CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK: It’s championship week for L.A. City and Southern Section football teams.
The L.A. City Section will conduct a tripleheader Dec. 3 at El Camino College in Torrance, starting at 11 a.m. when Franklin plays Reseda for the Division III title. Hawkins battles Los Angeles in the Division II game at 3 p.m., followed by the Division I title game between Dorsey and Narbonne.
In the Southern Section, St. John Bosco of Bellflower is the last area team standing. The Braves will play Mater Dei Dec. 3 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.
Mater Dei is 13-0 after defeating Rancho Cucamonga 48-21 last week to advance to the finals.
St. John Bosco is 11-2 on the season, with one of those losses coming against Mater Dei, 26-21, in October.
In that game, St. John Bosco led 21-12, going into the fourth quarter.
The Braves defeated Corona Centennial, 49-47 Nov. 25, in what was as good a high school game as you will ever see to advance to the finals.
The regional playoffs follow next week.
SAD NOTE: There was sad news to report this week on the high school sport scene. Dwan Hurt, who coached the Serra High boys basketball team for the past 27 years, died in his sleep Nov. 25. He was 53.
Hurt led the Cavaliers to eight Southern Section championships and two state titles, including the 4AA championship last year.
He graduated from Serra in 1981 and played college basketball at Gonzaga, where NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton was a teammate.
In addition to his coaching duties at Serra, he was the dean of discipline and could be seen on the sidelines at most Serra football games, as well as other school functions.
Among the people mourning Hurt’s death on Twitter was USC star Adoreé Jackson, who graduated from Serra in 2014; and a former Trojan, Marquis Lee, now with the Jacksonville Jaguars.