For USC there is still a lot to play for

LOS ANGELES CA - OCTOBER 30: LaMichael James #21 of the Oregon Ducks takes a hit from Chris Galippo and T.J. McDonald #7 of the USC Trojans during the fourth quarter at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 30 2010 in Los Angeles California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

While many, including myself, looked at this past weekends game against Oregon as our "Bowl Game" there is still much work to be done with five games left on the schedule.

As we see in every sport teams go through ebbs and flows. Very few teams dominate all season long or have flawless performances in every game. Many saw some improvement on defense on Saturday night. Lane Kiffin is even quoted as saying that the defense had the team in position to win...

OK, but I don't know how you reconcile giving up 600 yards and 53 points as putting the team in a position to win. 'SC needed to play a perfect game to win Saturday...they didn't, simple as that. Was there some improvement on defense? Yes. Was the discipline better? Yeap, we only had three penalties called against us. Unfortunately the offense didn't play as well as we have seen in previous weeks...like I said, teams go through ebbs and flows.

Saturday's disappointing loss doesn't mean that we should just throw the rest of the season away either...there is still a lot to play for.

USC, 5-3 overall and 2-3 in the Pacific 10 Conference after Saturday night's loss to top-ranked Oregon, plays three of its final five games on the road.

The Trojans play their last Pac-10 home game this week against talented-but-unpredictable Arizona State and then finish with games at No. 13 Arizona and Oregon State, a nonconference home game against Notre Dame and the season finale against UCLA at the Rose Bowl.

'SC needs to finish with a winning record, or at least match the 9-4 record of last season.

Many are hoping for a 10-3 finish...that is going to be tough with both Arizona and Oregon St. on the road. And ASU is no slouch either...they may be playing hot and cold this season but they have proven they can play.

'SC needs to finish the season strong just to get better. We have seen progress but we still have a long way to go.

USC is also playing for the future.

A strong finish goes a long way on the recruiting trail. Players will take notice. Savvy players know you don't judge a program on a few losses but they will take notice if a program starts to mail it in when there isn't anything material to play for like a bowl game or a conference title.

'SC needs every single player it can get...the meat of the sanctions are coming in 2011. 'SC needs kids to commit who are 100% committed to the program no matter what the future holds in store. I am not yet ready to buy into our chances of getting the sanctions reduced. I simply do not trust the NCAA appeals committee to do anything that rights the wrongs of an overzealous COI.

Players are also playing for their jobs as well.

Lane Kiffin is already looking at some roster moves...

Coach Lane Kiffin said Sunday that he did not consider motivation an issue as the Trojans move forward.

But there could be lineup changes.

"We are going to look at some things," Kiffin said. "We are going to look at two spots, specifically, on making sure that we're playing the best player there."

Kiffin declined to specify which spots were under review.

But the back seven on defense merit scrutiny.

He may be looking at two specific spots but rest assured everyone is under scrutiny.

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