USC Football: Winners and Losers from the Week 9 Game vs. Arizona
Where to start?
USC's season came crashing to an end in the desert of Arizona with a 39-36 loss to the Wildcats, as the Trojans gave away a game that they should have won easily.
Wasting a record-setting performance by wide receiver Marqise Lee, USC found out the hard way that a reputation isn't good enough to garner a win when the single greatest ability you show is a proclivity to give away the ball to your opponent.
Now the Trojans are left to pick up the pieces of a season that had so much promise.
This slideshow will look a the winners (one) and losers (many) from this debacle as the men of Troy attempt to find a way to not get run over next week by an Oregon team that must be licking its chops in anticipation of some payback for last season's loss to the Trojans in Eugene.
So, hold your nose as we look back at this miserable effort by the men of Troy.
Winner: Marqise Lee
OK, let's get this portion of the slideshow out of the way.
There was one winner for the Trojans, and his name is Marqise Lee.
Lee, who set both Pac-12 and USC receiving records against the Wildcats, was simply electric.
With 479 total yards, including a ridiculous 345 receiving yards on 16 receptions, Lee did everything he could to help the Trojans win this game.
Too bad he was the only one who came to play.
Nonetheless, the legend of Marqise Lee continues to grow as the luster of the 2012 USC Trojans wanes.
Loser: USC's Rushing Attack
It wasn't so much that Silas Redd and D.J. Morgan had horrible numbers—because they didn't—as the 125 yards on 26 carries would indicate.
After all, a 4.8 yards per carry average isn't too shabby.
And it wasn't even the fumbles that both Redd and Morgan lost at the most inopportune times; although, needless to say, that didn't help the Trojans' cause either.
It was simply that they could not be counted on to get the tough yards when needed.
How unreliable were the USC running backs?
Well, on a desperately needed 4th-and-2, Lane Kiffin had so much faith in them that he called for what turned out to be a failed double reverse.
In this game, USC needed its rushing attack to extend drives and keep its defense off the field against a potent Wildcat offense that would wind up exposing them in this game.
Sadly for USC, they failed miserably.
Loser: USC's Ball Security
It doesn't matter how good a team is if they give the ball away five times in a game against a motivated and talented opponent on the road.
Oddly, USC offered four of those turnovers in the first half and still had a 21-13 lead.
It wasn't so much that the Wildcats took advantage of USC's miscues in that opening half, as it represented a myriad of wasted opportunities for the Trojans to put this game away early.
With three of those turnovers occurring in the Wildcats' red zone, the Trojans squandered scoring chances that were needed when the offense fell on its face in the second half.
So, it turns out that three fumbles and two interceptions were just too much for the Trojans to rise above, which should come as a surprise to absolutely no one.
Loser: Lane Kiffin
I know that Coach Kiffin has nothing to do with his players throwing bad passes and fumbling the ball, but he does have to answer for some very odd play-calling and game strategy.
For example, why did Kiffin even mess with the no-huddle when he knew he needed to slow the game down for his defense?
As would become painfully obvious by the fourth quarter, the Wildcats offense couldn't be stopped by a Trojan defense that simply ran out of gas.
As bad as that plan was, it got even worse when Kiffin passed up a sure field goal (by the way, the Trojans lost by three, right?) and instead went for it on a failed fourth-down try.
But that's not all. Confounding everyone, Kiffin called for a double reverse, which also failed, on a 4th-and-2 deep in Arizona territory.
Too many turnovers and a bad day at the office for Kiffin were just too much to rise above for the Trojans on this day.
Loser: Trojan Discipline
In what has turned out to be a year-long theme, once again the Trojans could not get out of their own way when it came to penalties.
The nation's most penalized team added to their woeful ledger by getting flagged 13 times for 117 yards.
Combine five turnovers, a woeful rushing attack and another 117 yards in yellow hankies, and it is a surprise that USC only lost by three points.
Loser: USC's Defense
I guess it was bound to happen.
USC's defense, which has been far better than expected in 2012, finally fell on its collective face in the dry desert air against a potent Wildcat offense.
After giving up only 13 points in the first half (despite those four turnovers), Ed Orgeron's boys couldn't keep up in the second part of the game and wound up surrendering 588 yards for the contest along with those 39 points.
Of course, they didn't get much help from their turnover prone-offense and a coach whose game plan didn't offer an abundance of assistance either.
Still, when it counted most, USC's defense couldn't come up with a critical stop, and that makes them losers for this game.
Loser: USC's Legions of Fans
Unfortunately for those who follow the men of Troy, they were sold a bill of goods that the Trojans simply couldn't deliver on.
Gagging on the failed promises of "unfinished business" and "prep, not hype," Trojan fans are left to ponder how such a talented team could be reduced to "also ran" status by the ninth week of the college football season.
Of course, die-hard optimists who follow the Cardinal and Gold will tell you that the season can still be salvaged.
Yes, USC can win the Pac-12 (in theory) and make it to a very nice BCS bowl game, but is there any Trojan fan who really thinks this team will run the table?
I didn't think so.
Instead, we got suckered into believing that this team was something special, which clearly they aren't.
And unfortunately, that makes those who follow the Trojans losers for the 2012 college football season.