Sunday, November 27, 2016

USC Finishes Season 9-3 After Horrendous Start (VIDEO)


I wrote about the horrendous start back in September, "Lane Kiffin's Revenge: Alabama Beats USC 52-6 in Season Opener."

It wouldn't be so lopsided if the teams were to meet again today. USC's now got one of the hottest programs in the country, having won their last 8 starts, culminating with a crushing victory over Notre Dame yesterday.

And last night I was rooting for Utah over Colorado so SC would win the division. They still have a chance to go to the Rose Bowl, depending on how things shake out elsewhere. And what would the New Year be without SC in the Rose Bowl?

At LAT, "USC beats Notre Dame for eighth win in a row but will not play for Pac-12 title":

After he hurdled Notre Dame’s last defender, Adoree’ Jackson had enough time as he raced down the sideline to contemplate his touchdown celebration.

It was Jackson’s third score in USC’s 45-27 win over Notre Dame on Saturday. What was the best way to mark both USC’s stunning turnaround, from a 1-3 record to one of the hottest teams in the nation at 9-3, and the best performance of Jackson’s magnificent USC career: Front flip? Or Heisman pose?

“I told them I was going to do a front flip and then do the Heisman pose,” Jackson said. “But I was so tired from the kickoff return.”

As Jackson was celebrating (he went with the Heisman pose) a sizeable portion of the fans in attendance turned their energies to more important proceedings.

And that is how a “Let’s go Utah!” chant broke out at the Coliseum, for what was probably the first time.

To win the Pac-12 South Division, USC still needed help. Utah would kick off against Colorado shortly after the game’s end. If Utah defeated Colorado, USC would win the division.

USC’s players filed out of the locker room and marched through a postgame spread quickly after the game. Then they rushed through the rain, clutching their taco bowls, to pack into dorm rooms and apartments to watch, with disappointment, as Colorado fended off Utah, 27-22.

The outcome didn’t eliminate USC from the Rose Bowl, but it did make its path more complicated. Washington, the North Division champion, is a contender for the College Football Playoff. Colorado, the South winner, is more of a longshot.

If the Pac-12 champion reaches the playoff, the Rose Bowl would select the next best Pac-12 team, most likely based on CFP ranking. Washington was ranked No. 5, Colorado No. 9 and USC No. 12 before this weekend’s games.

Some players were keeping expectations in check.

“I think we’re going to San Antonio” for the Alamo Bowl, receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster said. “But I think the Rose Bowl, we worked so hard and we deserve it.”

The Cotton Bowl also remains an option if the Trojans ascend high enough in the rankings to earn an at-large bid.

Any of the possible destinations seemed like fantasy after September, when USC began its season 1-3, shackled with two Pac-12 losses in two tries.

Saturday evidenced the team’s evolution...