USC, the AP's preseason No. 1 team is a disappointing 7-4 with its regular season finale a week away, but it's already been confirmed USC Coach Lane Kiffin is going nowhere.
Asked after the Trojans' 38-28 loss to UCLA if Kiffin feels he's in a ‘must-win' situation next week against No. 1 Notre Dame in order to retain his job, Kiffin said "No, I don't. I don't feel that way at all and that comes from the top."
Indeed, it does.
USC Athletic Director Pat Haden confirmed to multiple news outlets that he's already ensured Kiffin his job is not on the line this season despite the disappointing record, including the loss to USC's crosstown rival UCLA.
"I'm not going to say when he told me it," Kiffin said when asked a third time about his job security. "I'm not worried about it."
It might be too soon to call the monopoly in L.A. over with UCLA defeating USC for only the second time in 14 years, but if that is the way this crosstown rivalry is heading, Saturday was certainly a solid start for the Bruins.
Kiffin said he was unable to argue that the Trojans were the better team after the 38-28 loss, "When you lose the game, you can't argue that," he said. "That's why they play the games."
"Hats off to UCLA," Barkley said after the game. "They came out firing. They fought to the end and deserve that win."
USC collected more first downs, 29 compared to the Bruins' 27 and even gained over 100 more yards on offense, 513 to the Bruins' 406. But the numbers on the stat sheet didn't equate to a ‘W' in the win column.
"We knew they were a great team," said junior receiver Robert Woods. "We knew they were going to play us well, and that's why the won."
Turnovers cost dearly
The common theme after Saturday's loss and the Trojans' previous three losses of the season is turnovers.
"I think the number one glaring thing in our losses has been turnovers," Kiffin confirmed after the game. "We haven't gotten too many and we've had way too many."
Barkley threw two interceptions against the Bruins, the first coming on USC's first offensive play of the game and then again in the fourth quarter. "Plays were there, plays weren't there, there are times when I feel like we could've broken the game open," Barkley said. "I would take this loss on myself as I do every loss, but it's just unfortunate." The two picks amounted to his 14th and 15th interceptions of the season.
For the third time in the last four games sophomore receiver Marqise Lee fumbled the football, the turnover against the Bruins resulting in a UCLA touchdown. "Just turnovers," Lee said after the game when asked what's been the difference in their losses. "That's really about it. We do what we're supposed to do and we execute. We just have to eliminate the turnovers that we have."
The Bruins finished with one turnover.