Originally written on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 1/1/13

Apple Maps. “John Carter.” Rick Perry’s presidential campaign. The USC Trojans’ season has to rank right up there with the top flops of 2012. Southern Cal’s horrific campaign ended late Monday afternoon in fitting fashion. The Men of Troy gave a truly a lousy performance in a 21-7 loss to Georgia Tech in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. It completed USC’s stunning implosion, as the preseason No. 1 team finished the year at 7-6. With veteran quarterback Matt Barkley sidelined, the Trojans struggled to generate any offense against a ghastly Georgia Tech defense. Barkley’s understudy Max Wittek averaged a meager 2.9 yards per passing attempt, completing 14 of his 37 throws for 107 yards. The redshirt freshman was also picked off three times. To their credit, USC’s defenders gave a strong effort. The Trojans held the Yellow Jackets’ option offense to 4.7 yards per carry, nearly a full yard below Tech's season average. They also forced three turnovers on the day. With Southern Cal’s star-studded O flailing, it was all for naught. The ugly performance matched the general vibe around USC all week in El Paso – and really all season. Despite starting the year as one of the leading challengers for the national title, Lane Kiffin’s squad never really seemed to play with any sense of enthusiasm. (Notable exceptions aside – beastly receiver Marquise Lee comes to mind.) Meanwhile, ‘SC dealt with distractions all season surrounding its lightning rod coach. In one sense, USC crapping out this season should serve as a reminder of the importance of depth for any college football team. Kiffin has continued recruiting at the torrid pace set by predecessor Pete Carroll. Even with all of that five-star talent, NCAA sanctions put some major roadblocks up in front of the Trojans. Still, although ‘SC may deserve a little slack for the depth issues, nothing about this season is likely to sit well with Trojan Nation. Kiffin now takes flack for even the most minor of transgressions. That happens when you intentionally court controversy the way that he has throughout his coaching career. All that heat might be tolerable around Heritage Hall if he was winning more games. USC won't keep covering for Kiffin much longer.

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