MINNEAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 18: Head coach Lane Kiffin of the USC Trojans studies plays on the sidelines during the game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers on September 18 2010 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis Minnesota. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
One thing that stood out Saturday was the way USC manhandled Arizona.
Lane Kiffin called it style.
But others saw some substance in the performance...
The win over a ranked opponent, on the road, qualifies as the most significant of Kiffin's short tenure."In our first year together, to have a game like that is very critical," Kiffin said during a teleconference with reporters.
The Trojans won't be playing in a bowl game, but the victory propelled USC back into the Associated Press media poll. The Trojans (7-3) are ranked 20th with a chance to continue climbing if they win their next three games.
It was pretty to be sure, but more importantly it was a physical contest. USC established the running game and really didn't give Arizona any chance to establish a rhythm.
That is something that we haven't seen with this team for the most part this season. We have seen a lot of fireworks in the air with Barkley connecting with Woods and RoJo but the running game has been up and down. The last few games has seen the running game become more consistent.
That means that the offensive line is starting to impose their will...or as Steve Bisheff says, getting physical.
Lane Kiffin, noted more for his finesse passing offense, turned his kids loose, and it suddenly felt like we were back in the days of John McKay and John Robinson.
Marc Tyler and the gang ran the home team Wildcats into the ground. Tyler, clearly the No. 1 tailback now, rushed for a season and career high of 160 yards. The Trojans held onto the ball for 37 minutes, and in the second half, 29 of their 44 offensive plays were runs.
Give some credit to the guys up front for USC, too. They came out with an attitude as prickly as some of the cactus surrounding the campus stadium. They were blocking and pounding the U of A defense everywhere you looked.
It was a good strategy, considering Arizona quarterback Nick Foles had no trouble finding those familiar gaping holes in the Trojans’ secondary. When he had the ball, he was doling out lots of damage.
Arizona, I believe, is a top 10 run defense, so Marc Tyler gaining 160 yards is a big deal. That is an offensive line was getting it done. Arizona pulled a Pete Carroll move in keeping safety pretty far back so the passing game was not as explosive as we have seen but it was still effective.
It was a sight to behold. We saw these kids come together and not let their past performances affect their play on Saturday. Yes, there were still some issues in the secondary like Torin Harris and Shareece Wright, but they did just enough to pull out a win.
This is a signature win for Kiffin, no question.
Hopefully they can build on this to finish out the season...there is still a lot of work to do!