In perhaps their most lackluster, uninspiring performance to date, Lane Kiffin’s USC Trojans fell to cross-town rivals UCLA at the Rose Bowl Saturday. It was only the second loss USC has had to UCLA in the past 14 encounters, but it felt as if the entire dynamic between the two schools and fan bases had shifted. The loss pretty much capped a season full of underachieving and disappointment from SC, and they are now just one game away from kissing the regular season goodbye and praying for something better than a Toilet Bowl bid. As always, we learned some things about USC from this performance, things that will likely shape what happens going forward with this team.
5. Matt Barkley Is Out, Max Wittek Is In
In the final minutes of the game on Saturday, Matt Barkley got sacked hard and stayed down for a few minutes before ultimately walking off the field unassisted. He did not return to the game. Later Saturday night news broke that Barkley had separated his right shoulder, and consequently would not be available against Notre Dame. This is the second time in Barkley’s career that he will miss the home game against the Irish, as in 2010 he was sidelined with a leg injury. Barkley is 2-0 in South Bend, but will never have the luxury of knowing what it feels like to beat USC’s biggest rival on his home turf. To make matters worse, this is the last game of his college career, and it takes place on Senior Night, no less. It is truly unfortunate that his career has to end on such a sour note; he has given so much of himself to USC over the past four years and he deserves better than to go out injured. But the football gods have other plans, so in his place redshirt freshman Max Wittek will get the start. Wittek has only made nine pass attempts in 2012, but has completed eight of those for 95 yards and a touchdown. It is known that he has a cannon, so it will be interesting to see just how he is used in his debut. This is likely not the way he envisioned his era beginning at USC, but he has the opportunity to kick it off with a bang if he can pull off an upset over undefeated Notre Dame.