USC Football: Lane Kiffin's Game Management Failures Doom Trojans

Randy ChambersAnalyst INovember 25, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24:  Head Coach Lane Kiffin of the USC Trojans walks away from Max Wittek #13 and Cody Kessler #6 as they warm up before the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

USC head coach Lane Kiffin has been accused of a lot of things this season, but this may have actually taken the cake.

Despite the team having to overcome tremendous odds with Matt Barkley not playing in the contest against Notre Dame, the Trojans still had a realistic chance to shock the college football world with an upset.

Instead, USC lost the game by a score of 22-13 and drops to 7-5 to finish up a disappointing regular season.

The reason the Trojans lost this ball game?

A ton of credit has to go to Notre Dame, which played its tail off for 60 minutes. But with USC having multiple chances to climb back into the contest, you would have to blame Kiffin and his terrible game management down the stretch.

Just fast-forward to the fourth quarter. USC had the ball inside the Notre Dame 5-yard line. It was 3rd-and-goal and the offense was looking to inch closer, as the team trailed 19-10. As quarterback Max Wittek was getting ready to hike the football, Kiffin had the brilliant idea to run down the sidelines and call a timeout.

USC ended up running the play anyway, and it resulted in a touchdown, but the referees announced that the timeout was awarded before the play was run.

Stewart Mandel of sums it up well:

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Lane Kiffin just erased his own team's touchdown.

— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) November 25, 2012

Just another wonderful coaching move by the USC head coach, as the Trojans had to then settle for a field goal after the play call failed coming out of the timeout.

But some may not fault Kiffin for that decision. After all, who knew the play was going to result in a touchdown? Also, the coach just wanted to make sure everybody was on the same page. He just wanted to draw up the best play possible and hope to find wide receiver Marqise Lee open in the back of the end zone.

Fine, I'll give you that.

But then there is the last drive of the game that made everybody's head explode and should result in some serious questioning throughout the week.

USC is down by a score of 22-13. For those of you that aren't the brightest at math, it equals to a nine-point difference in the favor of Notre Dame. Apparently, Kiffin failed a couple of classes when it comes to subtraction because he decided to go for it on fourth down at the Notre Dame 1-yard line.

I really can't make this stuff up.

There were still well over two minutes left on the clock. The Trojans needed a field goal anyway.

Why not take the three points and have confidence in your defense to get the ball back?

There has not been a nine-point touchdown ever scored in this game, and it certainly wasn't going to take place tonight. Once that play failed, the season was over, and the Irish began celebrating a national championship berth.

On top of going for it on fourth down on the key drive in the fourth quarter, Kiffin also decided to run the ball four out of the six plays. Although USC was carving up the Notre Dame secondary for majority of the game and receivers were running open all night, running right up the middle seemed to be the popular play call inside the red zone.

I guess Kiffin didn't get the scouting report that the Irish have one of the best front sevens in college football.

The play selection drew many frustrated reactions, including this one from Yahoo Sports Dan Wetzel:

You think Kiffin has a real play sheet there or they just give him an IHOP menu to pretend?

— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) November 25, 2012

USC had its chances to win this ball game and knock off the No. 1 team in the county, which would have added some happiness to this season. But due to horrible play calling, particularly in the fourth quarter, USC fans have suffered possibly the most heartbreaking loss of the year.