As the game clock struck zero and the UCLA Bruins emerged victorious from their annual showdown with the USC Trojans, a changing of the guard had begun. The city of Los Angeles had shifted in UCLA's direction, while USC head coach Lane Kiffin found himself on the brink of dismissal.
When the Trojans take the field against the No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, however, Kiffin can redeem himself with a win.
For the third time in four years, the Trojans are in the midst of a four-loss season. Kiffin has led two of those three teams, including the 2010 squad which dropped five games, one of which came against Notre Dame.
Although history is against Kiffin, the chance for redemption has presented itself. Not only can the Trojans take down the number one team in the nation, but they can conquer a rival and improve their standing in the BCS Rankings.
In turn, they could find themselves in a much more prestigious Bowl Game.
Although it won't be to USC's standards, this late-season success could help Kiffin hold on to his job until the 2013 season. Before we get ahead of ourselves, however, we must acknowledge the value of a victory over Notre Dame.
So where do we begin?
Curing the Rivalry Woes
Under Lane Kiffin, the USC Trojans are just 6-5 in rivalry games. They're 0-3 against Stanford, 2-1 against UCLA and 1-1 against Notre Dame.
That leaves three of those six wins to games against the lowly California Golden Bears.
The Trojans are also 1-2 against growing rival Oregon, which brings their record to 7-7 against their fiercest foes. For those familiar with USC, that record is nothing short of entirely unacceptable.
Regardless of their result against the Fighting Irish on November 24th, their record against rivals would continue to disappoint. Should the Trojans end Notre Dame's bid to make it into the BCS Championship Game, however, it would be hard to ignore such a feat.
It would also save Kiffin's job. For now.
Not Quite Elite
As alluded to in a previous article, the USC Trojans have underwhelmed when faced with ranked opponents. Since Kiffin took over in 2010, they're 2-6 against opponents that can be found within the Top 25.
They've also lost all three of their games against ranked opponents in 2012.
It's certainly understandable to suffer the occasional loss when faced with the top teams in FBS football. The issue is, there is no logic in stating you are amongst the elite when you struggle so mightily against the Top 25.
Considering the stature of the USC program, anything less than elite is failure. How better to reverse those underwhelming ways than to knock off the No. 1 team in the land?
Beating the Odds
When USC plays Notre Dame on November 24th, the Trojans will be at a severe disadvantage. According to a report via Fox Sports, senior quarterback Matt Barkley will be out due to a sprained right shoulder.
If Kiffin is able to lead USC to an upset of the No. 1 Fighting Irish with a backup quarterback, how could you not be impressed by such a turnaround?
Although USC's potential bowl game would have a lot to do with whether or not they keep Kiffin on board, a win over ND would be huge. There are few acts more powerful than derailing an arch rival's championship aspirations, which suggests this could be Kiffin's moment for redemption.
With his star quarterback sidelined and the odds stacked against him, is there any better way for Kiffin to keep his job than this? In all likelihood, there is not.
Now all he has to do is win.
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