Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 9/16/12

USC Trojans fans watched in stunned disbelief Saturday as their National Championship hopes spiraled down the drain in a 21-14 loss to the Stanford Cardinal.

Not only did the loss communicate clearly that the Trojans were not ready for the Big Game, but revealed serious *****’s in the armor of the former number two poseur.

Quarterback Matt Barkley had helmed what was heralded as one of the best offenses in college football for the prior two weeks with near surgical precision, carving up the defenses of Hawaii and Syracuse.

But none of that mattered to the Cardinal whose defense won the day collecting two interceptions, sacking Barkley four times, generally harassing him the entire game and making their first statement in the post Andrew Luck era.

Barkley finished the evening with an unimpressive 254 yards and no TDs, effectively obliterating any chance of a Heisman Trophy.

If not for running back Silas Redd’s two rushing touchdowns, the USC offense would have looked nearly bumbling.

More important than BCS hopes and Heisman trophies, USC’s uninspired performance showed that if the Trojans can’t post points against a mediocre Stanford team, they are certainly incapable of running with the big dogs and competing against a serious SEC contender like Alabama.  The Crimson Tide made a statement of their own with a brutal 52-0 mugging of former number ten Arkansas.

USC Head Coach Lane Kiffen will undoubtedly take a lot of heat; as well he should, for fielding a Trojans team that looked disorganized at best, and for some questionable play calling.  One particular play comes specifically to mind, a wide-receiver bubble screen that stopped working after the second quarter of last week’s Syracuse game.

There’s still a lot of football left ahead and USC has managed to make a trip to the National Championship behind a one-loss season before, as have other programs.  Right now though, that doesn’t seem to be in the cards.  Unfortunately for Kiffin, even after two years of bowl bans, a Rose Bowl berth, or other even lower tier bowl will be nothing but an insult for USC supporters and not acceptable at all.



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