The USC Trojans lost in devastating fashion to No. 1 Notre Dame, squandering several prime chances in the final minutes of the 22-13 loss. At the heart of the defeat were yet another series of questionable calls by coach Lane Kiffin, who once again came under fire following another disappointing loss for the Trojans.
USC could not convert two goal-line chances late in the fourth quarter, the first of which resulted in a Andre Heidari field goal to cut the deficit to 19-13. Following a Notre Dame field goal, the Trojans moved the ball right back to the Irish goal line. Thanks to a pass interference penalty, USC had three shots into the end zone from just inches out, yet failed on three-straight rush attempts.
Down nine points, Kiffin opted to go for the touchdown on fourth down rather than take the easier three points from a field goal. Max Wittek's incomplete pass sealed the defeat for the Trojans at home, igniting a firestorm of boos from the frustrated fans.
"I'm disappointed too," said Kiffin, according to Inside USC. "I hear (the fans). I feel them. We've got to do better."
The Trojans became the first preseason AP No. 1 to have five losses since Ole Miss went 5-5-1 in 1964, according to ESPN Stats. The loss, the fourth for USC in five weeks, was due in large part to the team's struggles at the goal line. Kiffin gave praise to Notre Dame for the defense down close while lamenting his own team's failure.
"They've had a great goal-line defense all year," Kiffin said. "They've done that to everybody down on the goal line. ... It's just so hard to score touchdowns versus them. When the ball is on the 2-inch line, you'd think you could score touchdowns."
Notre Dame will be headed to the BCS National Championship, while USC will be looking at the Sun Bowl as a possible destination.
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