Way back in week 2 (seems like a while ago now), Washington State did their part to get Lane Kiffin ousted. Why, they even had the stadium roused up that week with the chants of “Fire Kiffin”. ESPN’s USC beat writer said that he talked to a long-time USC writer and that guy said he had never heard anything like that before from a Trojan crowd.
With that in mind, I’m proud to say as a WSU fan that Kiffin can thank us (well, the Cougar football team) for his bouncing. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was cursing the name of Wazzu as he sat, muddling his future in the airport after being stranded at LAX.
In the minds of the USC-biased or maybe even a casual observer, a team like WSU should never, ever come into the Coliseum and walk out victorious, much less holding the mighty Trojans to a flabbergasting 7 points with a Bilitnikoff Award winner on the field. Play calling, preparation, whatever the deal, it just shouldn’t happen. Ever.
But for Washington State’s part, they played better than everybody expected and they were never “handed” the football game, they earned it. It’s certainly not as if Marquis Lee didn’t touch the ball, he did, on a multitude of occasions. They did try to throw deep to him, but the Cougar secondary just bracketed him every time and when they were in doubt tackled him and took a penalty.
It’s also not as if the Trojans were “struggling” on offense coming into or going out of the game, WSU’s game was sandwiched around 30 and 35 point outings from USC. In fact, the Trojans scored more than 7 points in every Kiffin coached game except against Georgia Tech in the 2012 Sun Bowl. The Cougars were just well prepared to handle Lee and maybe Nelson Agohlor and for the most part Tre Madden.
Now, we saw just this weekend that the Cougs are not so good at corralling about seven or eight different guys that are playing at the level of a Stanford all on one football team. The one-on-one’s maybe aren’t so good. Mike Leach and staff are working on it but the individual battles aren’t the Cougars’ strong point (more on this later today).
Regardless, for WSU you can’t suddenly say that game in L.A. is diminished because of the Lane Kiffin fiasco. They’ve only won (now) nine times in the history of the series, it means the world to the program regardless of the coach. No, if anything it means more because it was probably the most significant loss in Kiffin’s USC tenure and because of the job the Cougars did on his offense. It went pretty unnoticed thanks to the calls for Kiffin’s head, but there’s something to be said for Washington State that they were the team to put him in that place.