Matt Barkley USC football billboard disappears in Westwood

A USC football billboard featuring Matt Barkley that appeared in Westwood nearby the UCLA campus was covered on Tuesday, sparking a mini-mystery. Both USC and UCLA denied any role in the billboard being covered. A USC spokesman even saying the billboard was part of a city-wide marketing campaign. Finally the billboard company admitted they were the ones who decided to cover it up.

According to KTLA, the billboard site is owned by Regency Outdoor Advertising, a company co-owned by Brian Kennedy, a prominent USC donor, after whom a USC practice fields is named. Kennedy reportedly said the company decided to move the Barkley board to another location.

It seems like this comes down to some big USC fans trying to taunt UCLA by putting the billboard up by the Bruins’ campus. It’s no wonder USC tried to distance themselves from the campaign.

Regardless of who was responsible for the billboard, this is now the second time USC has taunted UCLA in the past few months when it comes to football. The Bruins need to respond on the field to maintain their self-respect.

Photos via SportsCenter/Twitter

USC schedule lists UCLA as home game

USC is so confident about its dominance against UCLA recently that it’s listing their November game at the Rose Bowl as a home game. Scott Enyeart, who noticed the sly jab by the Trojans, says the schedule is a keychain-sized one that’s being distributed around campus at the bookstore and Heritage Hall.

USC has 12 games on its schedule for the upcoming season — six at home, five on the road, and a neutral-site game against Syracuse. The keychain schedule shows the Nov. 17 game at UCLA as a home contest even though that’s one of their five road games.

The Trojans have won 12 of their last 13 games against against the Bruins, including five of six at the Rose Bowl. Even though they dominated the Bruins 50-0 last year, being too overconfident can be dangerous. Games are won on the field, not on paper. Just ask Rick Neuheisel about that.

Photo, story via Scott Enyeart

Lane Kiffin Says Refs Lied to Him, But He Made Risky Play Call and Paid

Lane Kiffin is upset with the Pac-12 referees for “lying” to him about a call at the end of regulation between USC and Stanford Saturday, but does he have a case? The play in question was the last play of regulation. The Trojans threw a screen to Robert Woods on 2nd and 10 with nine seconds left and two timeouts. The plan was to use one of the timeouts if Woods got tackled in bounds. Here’s the play:

Woods was ruled down in bounds with one second still showing on the clock. Lane Kiffin said he had an agreement with one of the officials that a timeout would have been called if they ruled Woods was tackled in bounds. The problem is there was less than a second left when Woods went down, and that really wasn’t enough time to get the referee’s attention and have them call timeout. Timeouts are not enforced when a coach wanted it to be called, but when the referee actually calls it.

Instead of being mad at an official for not calling the timeout, Kiffin should be upset with Robert Woods for running across the entire field instead of going down immediately and calling a timeout. It was a poor decision by Woods — one that wasted five seconds. It was also a risky play call by Kiffin because it relied on his players to manage the time properly. But Kiffin does have legitimate complaints about two other calls from the game.

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Video: USC Fumble Gives Stanford the Win, Cover

USC running back Curtis McNeal fumbled in the third overtime Saturday to keep the Trojans from beating Stanford. USC played an excellent game and led for most of the fourth quarter before losing 56-48. It can be argued that they should have won in regulation.

After the teams traded touchdowns in the first two overtimes, USC needed a touchdown and two-point conversion to match Stanford. Junior Curtis McNeal, who ran for a career-high 146 yards and two touchdowns, lost a fumble to end the game. Here is a video of the heartbreaking play:

Thanks to the fumble recovery, Stanford’s 16-game winning streak continues. The Trojans had this one. They were up 20-10 in the third quarter and 34-27 after Nickell Robery’s interception returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Over the last two weeks, USC has proved they’re a much stronger team than what they showed at the beginning of the season.

In another significant turn, the fumble helped Stanford cover the spread in most places. The game opened with Stanford favored by by 8.5 points most sports books. After money came in on USC, the line closed with the Cardinal favored by 7.5 points. By recovering the fumble, not only did Stanford win, they helped most bettors cover the spread.

video via CJ Fogler

USC Linebacker Chris Galippo on Notre Dame: They Just Quit

USC was able to defeat Notre Dame fairly easily on Saturday night in a game many expected to be an exciting one. While the score never really got away from the Irish, there were times in the second half where they appeared to be sleep walking. With the Trojans leading by only a touchdown in the fourth quarter and about eight minutes remaining, Notre Dame turned it over by fumbling on what should have been a routine swing pass.

In many ways, Notre Dame beat themselves.  In case they needed to add insult to injury after the game, USC linebacker Chris Galippo decided to kick the Irish while they were down.

“They just quit,” Galippo said according to the Orange County Register. “That’s what Notre Dame football is all about. They’re not anything like ‘SC.”

Running back Marc Tyler also added that Notre Dame “didn’t want to play anymore.”  Burn.  Brian Kelly’s program has enough questions surrounding it to begin with.  Between last night’s shaky prime-time performance and Kelly complaining about scheduling, the Irish seem to be headed in the wrong direction.  At 4-3 and with Stanford remaining on the schedule, they will have to fight just to become bowl eligible.  After watching Notre Dame turtle in the fourth quarter Saturday night, I’m not convinced they have what it takes to turn their disappointing season around.

Sideline Violation Keeps USC from Covering Against Utah (UPDATE)

UPDATE: The play in question was reviewed after the game and USC was given the touchdown. The final score was changed to 23-14 as it should have been. The penalty applied to the bench for committing unsportsmanlike conduct, making it a dead ball foul, so the penalty is assessed after the play is over.

UPDATE II: Some sportsbooks will not adjust payouts to reflect the new 23-14 final. From Todd Fuhrman at Ceasars: We do not recognize defaults prior to the start of the event, suspended games, protests, or overturned decisions for wagering purposes.


USC was lucky to escape with a 17-14 win at home over Utah Saturday night. Folks who put some money on the Trojans weren’t as fortunate.

USC blocked a 41-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the game to preserve the win. Torin Harris picked up the loose ball and ran it in for a score that would have made it 23-14. The only problem was half the team ran onto the field in celebration, resulting in a penalty flag.

The Trojans were hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for committing a sideline violation. The referee’s call was “unsportsmanlike conduct on the USC bench. By rule, we’ll decline that penalty. The game is over.”

The game ended with the score 17-14. The Trojans opened as a 10-point favorite in the game and the line closed at 7.5 or 8 most places. For most people, had the blocked field goal returned for a score counted, they would have covered or at least pushed. Sorry sports bettors, no dice on that one.

But that wasn’t the only controversial aspect of the ending. Prior to the field goal attempt, Utah got a poor spot on a 4th and 10 pass. Their pass went to the 38 but was initially spotted around the 40. After a review, the referees spotted the ball at the 39 (still a bad spot), and gave them a first down. They threw one more pass before attempting the field goal. Here’s a look at the terrible spot:

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Lane Kiffin Coaches USC Like They’re the ’04 Trojans

USC football has a problem on its hands and the head coach needs to recognize it. As stated in the title, Lane Kiffin coaches his current team as if they’re the 2004 squad. That team went 13-0, blistered Oklahoma 55-19 in the Orange Bowl, and outclassed many of its opponents. They had the sixth-highest scoring offense in college football and third-best scoring defense. They were loaded with future pros. Lane Kiffin coaches his current Trojans team as if they’re that loaded, but they’re not.

USC squeaked by Minnesota 19-17 in its home opener Saturday. A win is a win so I won’t take that away from them, but let’s be real: the Pete Carroll golden age teams would have plastered Minnesota by at least 30 points. That’s what Kiffin is used to with the Trojans, so he coached them accordingly.

Kiffin went for two following his first two touchdowns. Both failed. He went for it on 4th and 6 at the Minnesota 35 in the 3rd quarter and a disastrous fumble ensued. Granted, they were in a tricky territory where going for it makes sense, but the play-calling was strange.

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