For first-year USC head coach Lane Kiffin, there were questions after the NCAA handed the Trojans a two-year bowl ban and the loss of 30 scholarships over the next three years because of the Reggie Bush fiasco.
It’s been a dismal season for both, so when these two meet at the Rose Bowl Saturday for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff, there will be nothing at stake other than taking out their cross town rival.
Once Pacific 10 Conference powerhouses, Oregon is now the kingpin, and it doesn’t appear as though USC (7-5 and 4-4 in conference), or UCLA (4-7 and 2-6 in conference) will make a dent in the near future.
Last Saturday, the Trojans were handed a 20-16 setback by Notre Dame, something that hasn’t happened in eight years. The previous week, Oregon State routed USC by 29 points.
The Bruins were manhandled by Arizona State, 55-34, on Friday, and were taken down by Washington 24-7 a week earlier.
USC may not have starting quarterback Matt Barkley in the lineup after sustaining a high ankle injury. If Barkley can’t go, fifth-year senior Mitch Mustain will.
UCLA is using second-string quarterback Richard Brehaut in place of starter Kevin Prince, who had knee surgery.
The Trojans are balanced, with running back Marc Tyler carrying the load, while Dillon Baxter is a rising star.
When the Trojans go to the air, Ronald Johnson is reliable, but Robert Woods is spectacular.
USC began the season with a 49-36 win at Hawaii, then beat Virginia Tech 17-14. The Trojans notched victories over Minnesota by 11 points, then trounced Washington State on the road 50-16.
Two straight last-second field goals by Washington and Stanford upset the apple cart, but USC righted the ship with a 48-14 win over California, but couldn’t contain high-powered Oregon, losing 53-32, before knocking off Arizona State (34-33) and Arizona (24-21).
Using the “pistol,’’ the Bruins have been wildly inconsistent with regard to their offense.
On some days, they’ll be able to run the ball with Jonathan Franklin, who cracked the 1,000-yard barrier against the Sun Devils, doing most of the work.
Wide receiver Nelson Rosario is a game-breaker, and Taylor Embree and Ricky Marvray are solid.
The Bruins lost to Kansas State and Stanford, but beat Houston and Texas by a combined 65-25, before belting Washington State 42-28. UCLA fell to California (35-7), Oregon (60-13) and Arizona (29-21), before beating Oregon State (17-14).