Notre Dame vs. USC: Why Lane Kiffin Must Upset Irish to Stay off the Hot Seat

Ian BergCorrespondent INovember 23, 2012

PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 17:  Head coach Lane Kiffin of the USC Trojans on the field before the game against the UCLA Bruins at Rose Bowl on November 17, 2012 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish head to Los Angeles on Saturday to take on the USC Trojans at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Lane Kiffin brought excitement to the USC program when he took over the head coaching position in 2010, but he finds himself staring at the coaching hot seat with a loss to the Irish. 

Kiffin’s unpopularity hit an all-time high this season in Los Angeles.

It started with him lying about his coaches’ poll vote in August, when he told the media that he had not voted his team as the No. 1 squad in the country during the preseason USA Today coaches’ poll voting. 

After USA Today clarified that he had indeed voted for the Trojans as No. 1, he clarified his statement and relinquished his vote in the poll for 2012. 

While voting his team preseason No. 1 is no big deal—18 other coaches did as well—lying about the vote when he could have simply said “no comment” was a bone-headed move. 

On September 11th, it was reported by the Los Anegles Times that Kiffin had banned a reporter from practice and revoked game credentials because he had reported on an injury. Days later, Pat Haden reinstated the reporter. 

The next issue for Kiffin and Co. came when he walked out on a press conference after being asked about team injuries. Again, not a huge deal, but it adds more fuel to the hot-seat fire. 

All of those things aside, Kiffin has lost a lot of football games that he was expected to win. We all know that USC is playing with limited scholarship players, but this team was a preseason title contender because of the talent found on the Trojans' sideline. 

Since the start of the year, the Trojans have registered losses to Arizona, Stanford and Oregon. Crosstown rival UCLA also blasted USC this season, winning the game 38-28.

This team has tragically underperformed this season. The Trojans currently sit with four losses, with a fifth possibly coming on Saturday to the Irish. 

History says that the Trojans can be successful, but history doesn’t win football games. 

The Trojans have crushed the Irish's title hopes on at least seven different occasions, with the most recent time coming in 1980 with a backup quarterback leading USC to victory. 

The Trojans will look to follow the same blueprint when they start backup quarterback Max Wittek on Saturday.

This is a solid matchup for Saturday, with the Notre Dame defense looking to hold strong against the explosive USC offense. Robert Woods and Marqise Lee will challenge the Irish on the perimeter and will find plays as the game progresses.  

Lane Kiffin is hoping that his team can follow the footsteps of the Trojans that marched before them. Without a historic win under his belt to finish the season, Kiffin could be looking over his shoulder heading into the offseason.