Well, I guess I was wrong with regards to my prediction of USC’s football team starting the 2013 season 4-0.
The Washington State Cougars, who were picked by the pundits to finish last in the Pac-12 North, took care of that as they took advantage of a weak Trojan offense – save for Tre Madden, who rushed for 156 yards and accounted for the vast majority of ‘SC’s 193 total yards – to score a big upset over Lane Kiffin’s team, 10-7, in the Pac-12 opener for both teams before a crowd of 77, 823 at the Coliseum.
It was the first time that the Trojans lost a home opener since 2000, and the first win for those Cougars from the Palouse over USC since 2002, breaking an eight-game losing streak to Troy.
Quite a few of the fans at the Coliseum were heard booing at halftime, and again at game’s end as they showed their obvious frustration; I’m sure that the calls to “Fire Lane!” will get much louder now.
As was the case against Hawaii, Cody Kessler started at quarterback and much like in Honolulu, failed to dazzle anyone as he completed eight of 13 passes for 41 yards and an interception, scoring the Trojans’ only touchdown on a four-yard run in the second quarter.
The interception that Kessler threw was a complete game-changer as Washington State’s Damante Horton stepped in front of a pass with 27 seconds left before halftime and ran 70 yards for the tying score, shocking the Trojan Family and inducing jeers and boos from the crowd.
Max Wittek took over for Kessler in the third quarter, and though Madden got most of his yards at running back during those last 30 minutes, Wittek proved to be even more inept than Kessler as only three of his eight passing attempts were caught, for a total of 13 yards – and he also threw a pick to Wazzu’s Horton, who got my player-of-the-game award for his efforts.
A Pop Warner quarterback could have done better than that!
The winning score for Washington State came courtesy of Andrew Furney’s 41-yard field goal with 3:03 remaining in the game while on the other side, Andre Heidari regressed to his old ways, having one kick blocked and another attempt going wide left.
Right now, Madden is the only weapon the Trojans have on offense as his 156 yards marks the second straight game he has gone over 100 on the ground. The redshirt sophomore from Orange County leads the team – and is among the nation’s leaders – with his average of 130 yards per game.
It has gotten crystal clear that the USC defense is much improved from last year, and will not only keep the Trojans in games at this point – they certainly kept ‘SC in this one – it will also probably win games for the team.
The Trojans held Washington State to a mere seven yards on the ground, with defensive lineman Morgan Breslin getting two sacks, fellow d-lineman George Uko adding one and Lamar Dawson and Devon Kennard sharing credit on another.
Dion Bailey and Torin Harris get their second interceptions of the season during the contest, solidifying the USC defense’s status as the team’s bright spot of the young season (along with Madden).
As a unit, the USC defense is giving up an average of 226.5 yards a game, good for 11th in the nation, and they are ranked first in the country against the run with only 15 yards given up per contest.
Commenting on the calls to fire him during and after the game, Kiffin said, “You can’t worry about that…I’m used to it.”
“When you don’t play well, it falls on the head coach. We obviously weren’t well prepared on offense,” he added.
Kiffin will take the first step to remedy the offensive woes this week as sources say that he is expected to name a starter at quarterback today (Monday).
My prediction: Though the Trojans have moved the ball better with Wittek behind center thanks to madden, because of better numbers I think Kessler will be named as the man to officially replace Matt Barkley as the USC quarterback.
They definitely need to do something to right their ship.
Boston College Eagles (2-0)
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 14, 12:00 p.m.
PLACE: L.A. Memorial Coliseum
TV: Pac-12 Networks
These Eagles from the Chestnut Hill area of Boston – the alma mater of Doug Flutie of the legendary “Hail Mary” touchdown pass against Miami in 1984 – are off to a good start after going 2-10 last season, beating Villanova and Wake Forest so far in 2013.
Still, they were picked to finish in last place in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Atlantic Division this year.
Then again, Washington State was picked to finish last in the Pac-12 North, so you never know.
As such, I expect these Trojans to bounce back against the B.C. Eagles, simply due to the fact that they will be very angry after the Wazzu loss, and will likely play like that.