The first step for USC is to admit it has a problem.
That problem is Lane Kiffin.
How else to explain a very talented Trojan team’s horrid performance in a 10-7 loss to Washington State on Saturday night?
A USC offense filled with elite recruits put up just 192 total yards, including 54 through the air. Mind you, this is an offense that features Marqise Lee, one of the top players in the country. But Lee managed just 27 yards on seven catches.
But it hasn’t been just this game. This is part of a longer term trend for USC under Kiffin. The Trojans have scored just five offensive touchdowns in their last four games. USC hasn’t scored a point in a third quarter since the Arizona State game of last season. It is averaging 9 points per game in its last three home games. The Trojans have lost six of their last eight games.
And USC hasn’t lost to WSU in the Coliseum since 2000, the last year a Trojan head coach was fired. Will USC athletic director Pat Haden have the guts to pull the trigger this time around? Stay tuned.
For all the talk of USC, though, this was also the first big win for Mike Leach at WSU. The Cougars showed signs of life last week against Auburn and proved it wasn’t a fluke — their mental toughness was the difference against the Trojans.
Still, the path to a WSU win seemed problematic midway through the second quarter. The Trojans were up, 7-0, and driving. The Cougars offense was getting throttled and it looked like WSU was headed for another road loss.
But that all changed when Damante Horton stepped in front of a Cody Kessler pass and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown. Suddenly, the score was 7-7 headed into the half and the game was up for grabs.
Most of the rest of the game was sloppy and it looked like it might be headed to overtime but, once again, WSU made a play. Dom Williams took a Connor Halliday pass 50 yards down the sideline to set up Andrew Furney‘s 41-yard field goal with 3:15 left to play. The pressure shifted over to the Trojans.
But USC under Kiffin clearly doesn’t handle pressure well. Horton sat on another pass, this one from Max Wittek, and the Cougars ran out the clock. Suddenly, a bowl game seems like a possibility.
Whither USC, though? Given the embarrassing collapse to the Cougars, I’d be surprised if Kiffin lasts the season.
Certainly the fans have made up their minds.
“Fire Kiffin!” they shouted from the Coliseum stands as the seconds ticked down.