Facing a must-win situation against Arizona State, USC and head coach Lane Kiffin managed to come up with a big win. In the process, Kiffin has yet again delayed talks of his termination with one of college football's most talented rosters.
Behind Matt Barkley and Marquise Lee, a common theme this year for the Trojans, Kiffin and USC managed to pull off the 38-17 win after falling behind 14-7 in the first half behind a Barkley pick-six.
In the process, USC managed to keep hope alive in the hunt for the Rose Bowl. Next week's game against the UCLA Bruins could be the deciding factor in whether or not Kiffin is roaming the sidelines for the Trojans next season.
For now, he's saved his job yet again when clearly under fire.
As reported by Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles earlier this week, Kiffin continues to come under fire for the things surrounding his program that appear to be poisonous.
He was accused of the incident with Oregon where balls were being deflated that belonged to the Ducks. Though the crime had no effect on the outcome of the game, the ball boy was made the scapegoat, not Kiffin, who fired the young man upon the accusation.
He's also been involved in numerous recruiting questions and is supposed to be the savior of a program that's accustomed to winning football games, as they did in the Pete Carroll era. When you combine the off-the-field issues with the on-the-field product, you can understand why Kiffin continues to come under fire as the head coach.
Here's an excerpt from Saxon's piece:
And these are days when some USC fans will feel nostalgia for the Carroll years. He produced BCS title runs and, in down years, Rose Bowl bids. This was the first season Kiffin had a team that (1) was allowed to contend for a national title, and (2) was expected to. The result has been a disappointing 6-3 record, with surprising losses to Stanford and Arizona and—even worse—an expected loss to Oregon.
Fact is, Kiffin is in a conference, in a state and in a city where winning is expected—excuses aren't acceptable.
During the first half, when the offense was struggling and the team actually fell behind to a team that Oregon thoroughly dismantled early this season, ESPN LA's Arash Markazi wondered if this was the final time we'd see Kiffin.
A day after Mike Brown gets fired, is Lane Kiffin sealing his fate with this performance?— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) November 10, 2012
No one will be happy with the performance against Arizona State. Players, coaches and fans understand that to knock off UCLA next weekend and win a game against Oregon in the Pac-12 championship, the team must play better.
It appears Kiffin has saved his job yet again.
He has a must-win game coming up against UCLA, where questions of his job security will again creep up with a slow start, or the unthinkable—a loss.
But to save the long-term credibility of his coaching ability and to keep this dream job at one of the nation's easiest recruiting spots, he needs to step up his game both on and off the field.
A win on Saturday was a step in the right direction. Here's hoping Kiffin can continue to walk the straight and narrow toward building a national contender each week, because his job clearly depends on it.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team.