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Lane Kiffin's Updated Hot Seat Meter After Narrow Win over Utah State

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 21:  Head coach Lane Kiffin of the USC Trojans heads off the field after warm up before the game against the Utah State Aggies at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 21, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images
Alex BallentineFeatured ColumnistNovember 5, 2016

The USC Trojans might have picked up the win against an upstart Utah State team, but it isn't likely to improve Lane Kiffin's job security in Los Angeles. 

One week ago, it appeared that the Trojans had recovered from their embarrassing Week 2 loss to Washington State with an emphatic win against Boston College. Today, they went back to their struggling ways as they survived a scare against the Utah State Aggies at home, 17-14.

Once again, it was Kiffin's offense that held down the Trojans.

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 21:  Head coach Lane Kiffin of the USC Trojans talks to Cody Kessler #6 and Randall Telfer #82 during the second quarter against the Utah State Aggies at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 21, 2013 in Los Angeles, C
Harry How/Getty Images

The team needed a fourth-quarter field goal from Andrei Heidari to get to 17 points on the day and take the lead for good. Cody Kessler finished the game just 13-of-26 for 164 yards and a touchdown. Running back Tre Madden was held to a season low 3.9 yards per carry with 93 yards on 24 carries. 

In short, the offense was not good. Especially when you consider that fellow Pac-12 rival Utah beat the same Utah State team 30-26 with 450 yards of offense in Week 1. 

There were some positives to take from the game, though. The USC defense is an intense unit. Holding quarterback Chuckie Keeton and the Utah State offense to just 14 points is no easy task. The 26 points they scored against Utah was their previous low. 

After giving up no more than 14 points in its first four outings, it's fair to say that this defense is capable of winning a Pac-12, and possibly national championship. However, the offense is barely capable of winning a Mountain West championship. 

At a traditional football power like USC, that's simply not going to be enough to keep Kiffin's job. Fans of the program have been accustomed to winning conference titles and competing for national championships. As Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated pointed out, the Coliseum isn't exactly rocking these days. 


The good news for Kiffin to this point of the season is that all is not lost quite yet. As he pointed out after the game, the team did pick up the victory and got to 3-1 on the season. It wasn't pretty, but college football isn't always about winning pretty. 


Kiffin won't and shouldn't be fired over a close call against Utah State. It does, however, set the stage for an interesting conference slate looking forward. The Trojans are already looking at an 0-1 start in the conference after losing to Washington State, but will face their biggest challenge of the young season when they travel to Arizona State on Sept. 28. 

Kiffin has just one week to prepare his team's offense to take on an Arizona State team that figures to be one of the top teams in the Pac-12 South. If the offense doesn't look much better then, Kiffin might not survive the season. 

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