USC Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin is both cursed and celebrated as an Internet troll come to life on football sidelines. He played the Tennessee Volunteers‘ brass as chumps, has gone for two-point conversions with regularity and your hate only makes him stronger.
Those who can’t stand Kiffin have been getting plenty of laughs in lately, and rightly so. USC has dropped three of its last four games. If it can pull off the near-inconceivable, not only will Kiffin have successfully shot down the Notre Dame Fighting Irish‘s dreams, he’ll have replenished the hatred that drives him.
The odds are heavily stacked against Kiffin’s Trojans. Going against MIKE linebacker Manti Te’o and a scoring defense tied with the Alabama Crimson Tide‘s for No. 1 in the nation, quarterback Matt Wittek has to play flawlessly as he starts in place of a sidelined Matt Barkley, but Wittek clearly isn’t intimidated by any golden domer. Why should he be? Compare what the Trojans have to lose to Notre Dame.
A guaranteed victory for USC has been promised by the redshirt freshman quarterback, but he can’t do it by himself. What’s it going to take to pull off one of the biggest upsets of the year?
The Trojans have to find some semblance of a running game throughout the contest, giving Wittek the ability to get into rhythm and build confidence early and maintain it. Having a wide receiver like Marqise Lee is huge, but with Te’o roaming the middle of the field, USC’s not only going to have to steal some of the Irish’s luck, it has to capitalize on any fortune they find.
Notre Dame has only posted negative turnover margins at the end of two games this year: against the Stanford Cardinal and Pittsburgh Panthers, both home games. The Trojans must yank away at least two turnovers from Brian Kelly‘s crew for the opportunity to topple the No. 1 team in the land
Tonight, Kiffin’s being given the ideal stage to stun millions and laugh on into the night: If his 7-4 Trojans can upend the undefeated Irish, while Barkley’s business will always remain unfinished, Notre Dame will join him in sorrow.
Brandon Cavanaugh is a college football columnist for Rant Sports and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter and join in on the conversation.