Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/9/14
The USC Trojans’ dream season has run off the rails, but while the three-loss Trojans won’t be in the BCS title game, they still have a shot to end the year in Pasadena in the Rose Bowl. To get there, they’ll have to put their focus back on the field and away from the hype and distractions that have turned their once-promising season into a disappointment. The Trojans host the Arizona State Sun Devils at home this afternoon. USC lost badly in Tempe early last season, and they’ll be looking to redeem that loss, as well as the entire 2012 season. The Trojans haven’t lost three games in a row in more than a decade, but they won’t get an easy win over the Sun Devils, who are seeking to avoid a four-game losing streak. The biggest area in which USC needs to improve is, obviously, defense. The Trojans surrendered 1,318 yards and 97 points in their last two games, losses to Arizona and Oregon. The defensive line, which had been strong until recently, allowed the Ducks’ Kenjon Barner to rush for 321 yards last Saturday night, while the secondary continued its season-long struggles. The Trojans also need to keep penalties to a minimum. USC was the most-penalized team in the nation heading into the Oregon game, but they drew just three flags last week. Unfortunately, it didn’t make a difference because the defense was such a mess. The offense has gotten into a better rhythm in the last few games, accounting for more than 600 yards and 51 points last week, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement. Quarterback Matt Barkley must improve his decision-making. The preseason Heisman favorite has three more interceptions already this year than in all of 2011, and he’s often looked out of sorts under pressure. Sophomore receiver Marqise Lee has been a one-man highlight reel for the Trojans in the last two games. The school, realizing that Lee, not Barkley, is their best Heisman candidate, put out a highlight video trumpeting Lee’s immense talent and accomplishments this year. He’ll have a lot of people watching to see if he really is as good as advertised, including his father, who has had an on and off relationship with the USC receiver and will be attending his first-ever Trojans game. USC’s task in this game is to move forward, and the team has to do so by shutting off the outside noise – Heisman talk, questions about Coach Lane Kiffin’s job security, this week’s recent controversy about the school getting fined and a student manager getting fired for deflating footballs – and putting the past behind them. It’s the only way to save their season – and it might be the only way for Coach Kiffin to fend off the critics who say he’s not the man to lead the Trojans back to the top.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Trading up for QB in first round is a risky proposition

Madison Bumgarner rips Max Scherzer over thoughts on DH

Hamilton: Angels knew what the risks were with signing me

MLB could move Orioles’ home games to another city

Kyle Lowry isn't exactly endorsing coach Dwayne Casey

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

J.R. Smith suspended two games for hitting Jae Crowder

Duke takes over as the No. 1 recruiting class

Kevin Love not expected to be available next series

Titans have reportedly been 'all over' Marcus Mariota

Report: Browns talked with Redskins about trading up

Doc Rivers tore into Clippers in film room after blowout loss

Orioles VP reacts to Baltimore protests with passionate tweets

Should the Warriors be worried about extended rest?

WATCH: Paul Pierce bangs glass at Capitals-Islanders Game 7

Jon Jones turns himself into police, facing felony charge

Report: Brady was at stadium day of White House visit

Arkansas has leather belt to commemorate Texas Bowl win

John Angelos, Orioles got it right with Freddie Gray protest

Belichick's girlfriend fine with coach checking out Teigen

V. Stiviano posts birthday message to 'BFF' Donald Sterling

Mark Cuban and the inevitable playoff peril of the Mavs

Wizards made Raptors look bad while remaking themselves

Previewing Game 7 showdown between Islanders and Capitals

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Hamilton: Angels knew the risks

Jon Jones turns himself into police, facing felony charge

MLB could move Orioles’ home games

Duke takes over as the No. 1 recruiting class

Titans have been 'all over' Mariota?

Doc Rivers tore into Clippers after loss

Worst picks ever by every NFL franchise

Report: Cowboys not in on Peterson

NFL Draft 2015: Ranking the QBs

Top 10 storylines for the 2015 NFL Draft

Paul Pierce trolls Raptors fans

Yes, ESPN2 is airing video games

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.