Right now, USC fans are thanking the Arizona State Sun Devils for their 62-41 shellacking of their Trojans in Tempe on Saturday night, because it propelled athletic director Pat Haden to finally do what many of them greatly desired for over a year:
Fire now ex-head coach Lane Kiffin.
After what the 22nd-ranked Sun Devils did to the Trojans’ top-ten defense – they tied the record set by Oregon last season in scoring 62 points, gaining a whopping 612 yards in process, 351 courtesy of ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly’s arm as he exploited SC’s young secondary in throwing three touchdown passes – I’m sure that most folks figured Kiffin’s time had run out.
Kelly lead all Sun Devil rushers with his 79 yards as well, part of Arizona State’s 261 on the ground, the team averaging seven yards a pop, which surely made Devon Kennard, Morgan Breslin, and the rest of USC’s vaunted defensive line look bad.
On a proverbial bright spot note, the Trojans’ offense finally got things going as they produced 542 total yards to go along with their 41 points, both of them season highs as the performances of SC’s offense and defense were the opposite of what they have been this year to date.
Cody Kessler had his best day – by far – in cardinal and gold behind center as he threw for 295 yards on 20-of-29 passing attempts, both of his touchdowns going to Tre Madden, who rushed for 128 yards while accumulating 66 more on his receptions; the freshman running back added a 48-yard rushing TD in the fourth quarter to boot.
Fellow first-year back Justin Davis proved to be just as stellar, providing the Trojans with two 100-yard rushers on the night with his 126 yards and two scores, one of them a 58-yard scamp with two-and-a-half minutes left in regulation to make the final score a little more respectable.
Marqise Lee led USC with seven catches and 92 yards before hurting his knee late in the game. It was indicated that the injury is not as bad as initially thought, but it is also unknown when the All-American receiver will return.
Not that the score of the game shows it, but the Trojans and Sun Devils were in a real battle in first half and into the second, ‘SC trailing by only six points at halftime and taking a 21-20 lead early in the third quarter due to Madden’s 24-yard run.
It was what happened after that that signaled the downfall of Troy, as Arizona State (3-1, 1-1 Pac-12 Conference) outscored USC 42-20 the rest of the way, those 20 points coming after the game was pretty much decided.
Now sitting at 3-2 and – more importantly – 0-2 in the Pac-12 Conference with their head coach gone and Ed Orgeron taking the reins in the interim, the Trojans now have a bye week as they don’t play again until Thursday night, October 10, when the Arizona Wildcats come to the Coliseum.
For Orgeron, this is essentially an eight-game tryout for him as the fiery recruiting coordinator who’s in charge of the defensive line will make his case to remove the “Interim” from his new title.
Arizona Wildcats (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12 Conference)
DATE & TIME: Thursday, October 10, 7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports 1
Outside of Ka’Deem Carey, last season’s leading rusher in the NCAA who currently ranks third in the nation with his 143.7 yards per game, which includes 132 yards in his latest go-around, and the fact that they are coming off a 31-13 loss to a strong Washington team who’s ranked 15th in the country, the jury is still out on these Wildcats from Tucson.
Under second year head coach Rich Rodriguez and quarterbacked by B.J. Denker, Arizona continues to be competitive, but until the Washington game in Seattle they hadn’t really been tested.
Denker’s numbers are modest as he has completed 50% of his passes with two touchdowns and interceptions. His 280 rushing yards trail only Carey.
Arizona’s test will certainly come in the Coliseum as it’s a guarantee that the Trojans will come out HARD for Orgeron and will reflect his hyperactive fiery style.