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USC Football Season Recap: The Washington State Blunder

In part of our season-closing seminar, we take a look back at the ripple effect from losing to Washington State in what many consider the Trojans worst home loss this century.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

It all began with the home opener against Washington State, the game where nothing seemed to make sense and yet almost went right according to script under former head coach Lane Kiffin.

The Trojans split-quarterback offense could barely muster an attack against Washington State, scoring seven points on a second quarter rushing drive and finishing the night with 54 yards passing. To call that game atrocious on offense would be the largest understatement of the year, especially bold in this dramatic up-and-down season.

USC threw the ball 21 times, going almost entire quarters without firing forward passes downfield as both Wittek and Kessler combined to average 2.6 yards per attempt while each threw one interception on the night. The Coliseum crowd, seemingly having enough with Lane Kiffin, belted out "Fire Kiffin" chants as the team rushed off the field in shocking defeat at the hands of a far inferior opponent in the home opener.

Nothing was working from the very start, as even the heralded rushing attack was being stifled all night by an aggressive Washington State defense that threw out conventional wisdom and fooled the USC attack from the start. The entire course of the season may never have played out if not for this sticky road block along the way.

We start this discussion by begging the question, which of USC's four losses was the most disappointing to swallow?

Luke Holthouse- Washington State. Looking back on the season, I still can't believe that happened. Arizona State and UCLA both turned out to be very good teams, and Notre Dame was at least decent, but Washington State didn't even finish the year above .500! That game was the most disheartening way to start a season, and though it ultimately may have contributed to the long term good by expediting Lane Kiffin's firing, that loss represents how bad things had gotten around a very proud football program.

Mike Luca- I strive to live life with as minimal regret as possible. If it weren't for the offense and defense taking the night off against Washington State and Arizona State, respectively, then Lane Kiffin remains head coach and instead today we're ranking "The Top 10 Visors of the 2013 Season."

Head inflation of UCLA can never be as commemorated (and in hindsight Coach O's fate was already sealed as tightly as that of a prom night dumpster baby), so the fact that USC could not muster a single touchdown or third down conversion in the second half versus Notre Dame is most frustrating. Silas Redd's emergence from injury (19 carries for 112 yards and a score) and another stellar defensive effort were wasted, while Kessler threw a clunker (201 yards, zero touchdowns and an interception) for just the second time this year. Spectators were assuredly drinking like Irishmen that day.

Calum Hayes- The Trojans rank first in the country in sacks and are tied for second in the country with six interceptions. Yet, we were staring down a 1-1 Trojans team that made me feel like I was living an Onion article. The last time the Trojans lost a home opener was all the way back in 2000; the last two times a ranked USC team lost to an unranked Washington State team the coach lost his job.

There it is, the real topic of conversation we're left after this USC loss. Even statistics as dismal as the ones listed above can't convey the feeling in the Coliseum. I grew up rooting for a Portland Trailblazers team coached by the immortal Mike Dunleavy and even I have never heard that much fan animosity toward a coach. I can't advocate booing a bunch of "(unpaid)" 19-year-olds doing their best and I struggle to advocate the "Fire Kiffin" chants, but I certainly understood them.


Make sure to keep your eyes open throughout the week as we profile our thoughts and experiences from some of the best and worst moments of the season. While USC did finish the year with 10 victories, plenty of strong performances and befuddling loses align the major headlines as we flip the calendar towards 2014.