LOS ANGELES — The Fighting Irish punched their ticket to Miami.

Theo Riddick rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown, Kyle Brindza kicked five field goals, and No. 1 Notre Dame secured a spot in the BCS championship game with a 22-13 victory over Southern California on Saturday night.

Everett Golson passed for 217 yards as the Fighting Irish (12-0) completed their first perfect regular season since 1988, earning a trip to south Florida on Jan. 7 to play for the storied program's first national title in 24 years.

Although they did little with flash on an electric night at the Coliseum, the Irish woke up more echoes of past Notre Dame greats with a grinding effort in this dynamic intersectional rivalry with USC (7-5), which has lost four of five.

Notre Dame's hard-nosed defense appropriately made the decisive stand in the final minutes, keeping USC out of the end zone on four plays from the Irish 1 with 2:33 to play.

After spending more than a decade looking up at the Trojans, the Irish are back on top of this rivalry with two straight wins in Los Angeles. The school of Knute Rockne, the Four Horsemen and Paul Hornung has new heroes now, from inspirational linebacker Manti Te'o to coach Brian Kelly, who took the Irish from unranked to start the season to No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time in 19 years.

Te'o, the Heisman Trophy hopeful, had a key interception against USC and became the second Irish defender with three 100-tackle seasons.

The grind-it-out win highlighted an unforgettable season for the Irish, who began the year with questions about their relevancy and survived some uninspiring performances and nail-biting finishes with their unbeaten record intact.

Notre Dame is likely to face an SEC opponent in Miami, but won't know for another week.

With the Irish offense repeatedly stalling in the red zone against the Trojans, Brindza went five for six on field goals, even hitting a 52-yarder at the halftime gun.

After Brindza's school record-tying fifth field goal put the Irish up by nine points with 5:58 left, Marqise Lee caught a 53-yard pass from USC freshman Max Wittek at the Notre Dame 2.

But after USC failed on three straight runs at a defense that has allowed just 11 rushing TDs in 30 games, Wittek threw incomplete to fullback Soma Vainuku, setting off a leaping, chest-bumping celebration on the Notre Dame sideline and in the Irish sections of the sold-out Coliseum.

Lee caught just five passes for 75 yards, yet still broke the Pac-12 single-season receptions record established last year by teammate Robert Woods, who had seven catches for 92 yards.

Wittek passed for 186 yards with two interceptions in his first career start for the Trojans, who completed their tumble from the preseason No. 1 ranking with four losses in five games in an enormously disappointing season. Wittek filled in capably for injured Matt Barkley, but USC is headed to a lower-tier bowl in the first year after its NCAA-mandated two-year postseason ban ended.

Barkley watched from the sideline in a grey hoodie with a sling on his right arm after spraining his shoulder in last week's loss at UCLA. The senior and Pac-12 career passing leader won twice in South Bend during his career, but never got to face the Irish at the Coliseum, sidelined by injuries for both visits.

Barkley still ran down the Coliseum tunnel with the rest of the USC seniors for their final home game. He participated in the coin toss, but could only watch while the Irish opened the game with three clock-consuming drives resulting in 13 points.

USC's much-criticized defensive caution under assistant head coach Monte Kiffin was exploited by the Irish, with Golson patiently finding the sags in the Trojans' pass coverage for 181 yards passing in the first half. Riddick went 9 yards for a TD in the first quarter, but USC also stiffened to hold Notre Dame to field goals twice in the red zone.

Notre Dame held its 12th straight opponent without a first-quarter touchdown, but Wittek found Woods for a 9-yard score on the first play of the second quarter – just the ninth touchdown allowed by Notre Dame all season long. The Irish took a 16-10 lead to halftime when Brindza hit the second-longest field goal in Notre Dame history.

Te'o made the seventh interception of his phenomenal season when Wittek threw directly to him on USC's second play of the second half. Both teams struggled to move the ball in the third quarter, and USC settled for a field goal with 9:20 to play just a few moments after USC coach Lane Kiffin called a timeout right before a play that ended with Lee catching a pass on the goal line.

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  • Everett Golson

    Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson passes during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Southern California, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Notre Dame v USC

    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Senior Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans is introduced before the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Matt Barkley, Max Wittek

    Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley, right, comes up to quarterback quarterback Max Wittek, left, after his first offensive drive of the game during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Notre Dame, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

  • Everett Golson

    Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson scrambles as he looks for a receiver during the first half against Southern California in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

  • Notre Dame v USC

    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Senior Curtis McNeal #22 is greeted by Head Coach Lane Kiffin of the USC Trojans before the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • KeiVarae Russell, Marqise Lee

    Notre Dame cornerback KeiVarae Russell, right, intercepts a pass intended for Southern California wide receiver Marqise Lee, left, during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Max Wittek

    Southern California quarterback Max Wittek passes during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Notre Dame, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Robby Toma, Theo Riddick, Dion Bailey

    Notre Dame wide receiver Robby Toma, top, jumps onto running back Theo Riddick, bottom, to celebrate after Riddick dove into the end zone for a touchdown, as Southern California linebacker Dion Bailey, left, runs past eduring the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

  • Max Wittek, Marqise Lee

    Southern California quarterback Max Wittek, left, celebrates with wide receiver Marqise Lee, right, after completing a touchdown pass to wide receiver Robert Woods against Notre Dame during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

  • Theo Riddick, Hayes Pullard, Jawanza Starling, Lamar Dawson

    Notre Dame running back Theo Riddick, left, dives across the goal line to score a touchdown against Southern California linebacker Hayes Pullard (10), safety Jawanza Starling (29) and linebacker Lamar Dawson (55) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

  • Max Wittek

    Southern California quarterback Max Wittek celebrates after completing a touchdown pass to wide receiver Robert Woods against Notre Dame during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

  • Robert Woods, Bennett Jackson, Zeke Motta,

    Southern California wide receiver Robert Woods catches a touchdown pass from Southern California quarterback Max Wittek in front of Notre Dame cornerback Bennett Jackson, rear left, and safety Zeke Motta, right, during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

  • Notre Dame v USC

    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Head Coach Lane Kiffin of the USC Trojans greets senior Matt Barkley #7 before the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Max Wittek

    Southern California quarterback Max Wittek warms up for an NCAA college football game against Notre Dame, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Lane Kiffin, Matt Barkley

    Southern California coach Lane Kiffin, right, embraces quarterback Matt Barkley, left, as the seniors are introduced to the crowd before USC's NCAA college football game against Notre Dame, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

  • Max Wittek, Curtis McNeal

    Southern California quarterback Max Wittek, left, hands off to running back Curtis McNeal during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Notre Dame, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Notre Dame v USC

    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Head coach Lane Kiffin of the USC Trojans before the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Notre Dame v USC

    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Robert Woods #2 of the USC Trojans reacts after he is tackled off a punt during the second quarter to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Notre Dame v USC

    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Kyle Brindza #27 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish watches his third field goal of the game for a 16-10 lead over the USC Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Notre Dame v USC

    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Wide receiver Robert Woods #2 of the USC Trojans catches a pass for a touchdown while pursued by cornerback Bennett Jackson #2 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the first half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

  • Theo Riddick, Hayes Pullard

    Notre Dame running back Theo Riddick, right, breaks the tackle of Southern California linebacker Hayes Pullard during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Notre Dame v USC

    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Running back Theo Riddick #6 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates a touchdown with teammate Braxston Cave #52 in the first half against the USC Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

  • Notre Dame v USC

    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Robert Woods #2 of the USC Trojans makes a catch for a touchdown in front of Bennett Jackson #2 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to trail 10-7 to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Notre Dame v USC

    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Kicker Kyle Brindza #27 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates field goal at the end of the first half against the USC Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

  • Notre Dame v USC

    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Max Wittek #13 of the USC Trojans leaves the field after his intercepted pass by KeiVarae Russell #6 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the second quarter at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Notre Dame v USC

    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Max Wittek #13 of the USC Trojans and Head Coach Lane Kiffin react after a touchdown pass to Robert Woods #2 during the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Notre Dame v USC

    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Cierre Wood #20 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish runs with the ball as he is tackled by Jawanza Starling #29 and Lamar Dawson #55 of the USC Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Notre Dame v USC

    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Everett Golson #5 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish passes in the pocket against the USC Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Notre Dame v USC

    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Everett Golson #5 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish runs an option as he is pursued by Leonard Williams #94 of the USC Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Notre Dame v USC

    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Robert Woods #2 of the USC Trojans celebrates his touchdown with Curtis McNeal #22 to trail 10-7 to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Notre Dame v USC

    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Theo Riddick #6 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish breaks the tackle of Hayes Pullard #10 of the USC Trojans to score a touchdown to take a 10-0 lead over the USC Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Notre Dame v USC

    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Theo Riddick #6 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish dives across the goal line to score a touchdown to take a 10-0 lead over the USC Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Notre Dame v USC

    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Max Wittek #13 of the USC Trojans gets a word from Head Coach Lane Kiffin after his touchdown pass to Robert Woods #2 during the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Notre Dame v USC

    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Max Wittek #13 of the USC Trojans warms up before the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Notre Dame v USC

    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Head Coach Lane Kiffin of the USC Trojans walks away from Max Wittek #13 and Cody Kessler #6 as they warm up before the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Notre Dame v USC

    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Head Coach Lane Kiffin of the USC Trojans talks to Max Wittek #13 before the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)