In insane rain, the reign of the vain goes down the drain, when an inane INT shows Mustain’s untrained brain has much to gain… but Ronald Johnson can’t complain — He dropped a pass that would have slain Notre Dame

Big disclaimer:  Anything snarky I say about usc today should not be interpreted as a belief that UCLA will beat them next Saturday.  Yes, usc totally choked away a win over Notre Dame on Saturday night, and yes, Notre Dame’s Quarterback was worse than Richard Brehaut, but Notre Dame’s defense showed some toughness in the trenches, and usc is not likely to drop a half-dozen good passes (two of which should have locked up the game).  Also, Lane Kiffin isn’t going to play Mitch Mustain again, unless Matt Barkley drops dead before this weekend.

It took sc’s back-up Quarterback Mitch Mustain a little while to get going, as Notre Dame took a 13-3 lead into Halftime.  But Mustain finally got into a rhythm, and was able to guide sc back to a 16-13 lead late in the 4th Quarter.  It didn’t hurt that his ND counterpart was an overwhelmed, 18-year old True Freshman who committed 4 fairly unforced Turnovers, which led to ALL 16 of sc’s points.  But with about 2 minutes left, Mustain drove sc down the field, putting them in a position to overcome their 20-16 deficit.  Included in that drive was a good pass to Brandon Carswell, who had NO defenders between him and the end zone.  But he totally took his eye off ball to look at the open field, and he let the ball fall right through his hands.  A few plays later, Ronald Johnson went deep, and his defender fell down, leaving Johnson wide open a few yards in front of paydirt.  But Johnson also whiffed, letting the Irish off the hook momentarily.  Then a couple of plays later, Mustain threw a pass to the end zone, which was targeted for a double-covered Receiver, but the ball didn’t go anywhere near that Receiver, and was easily intercepted at the two yard line… GAME OVER.  And, eight game winning streak versus Notre Dame… OVER.

Mustain is the goat on Sportscenter, but Johnson and his fellow Receivers were the ACTUAL goats.  The Announcer said that they dropped about 6 passes on the night, and that Mustain did everything that could possibly have been expected of him.  I do not disagree with this assessment.  Of course, in the chilly, pouring rain, you have to expect some dropped balls, but it makes Mustain’s performance even more remarkable.  Just to hit so many targets is impressive, especially since it was his first start in 4 years.  Too bad for Mitch that his final throw was so awful.

Mustain would have never been in such a final-drive bind, if it weren’t for Monte Kiffin’s totally “un-clutch” defense.  For the third time this season, they allowed a game-winning drive in the final minutes of a contest.  And this time, it wasn’t orchestrated by a future NFL Star like Andrew Luck or Jake Locker.  This time it was a green QB who has no business playing for a school like Notre Dame (at this stage of his career).  All sc had to do to win was FORCE HIM TO PASS the ball in those treacherous conditions.  But troy couldn’t stop the run, even when they knew it was coming.  The Irish running game just pummelled sc all the way down the field, with the Running Back finally bulling his way into the end zone, carrying several trojan defenders with him.  That left the game in the hands of Mustain and his Receivers — not exactly the Allstate of college football.

I’m not sure if sc’s Defense is worse than UCLA’s but if they’re not, they’re certainly close.  Last night’s fiasco of a game probably gave a lot of hope to every Bruin fan (except the one writing this article).  After seeing Brehaut gain some success against ASU, there’s no reason to think that sc will be able to completely shut down the Bruin Offense.  In fact, they are likely to force Brehaut out of the pocket, and Brehaut showed that he CAN make things happen while on the run.  The problem is that with Barkley back in action, and without a torrential downpour in Pasadena, the trojans won’t drop 6 passes.  Add to that the fact that the Bruin Defense won’t be able to stuff Marc Tyler and the trojan running game like Notre Dame did, and you have to believe that sc will score a helluva lot more than 16 points.

So go ahead and enjoy last night’s trojan ineptitude for now — just don’t expect them to be that frigid next week.  It’s shocking to me that they could be so flat for hated Rival Notre Dame, in the Coliseum, but there’s no way that they come out without any fire in their final game of the year, against their even-more hated Rival.  On the other hand, maybe they are just so thoroughly demoralized by their piss-pour performances of the last two weeks, that they have already quit on Kiffin for this year.  But I guess you could say the same thing about the Bruins. 

Next week, we’ll see if Rick Neuheisel is able to motivate his team.  If he can’t, it may be his last try, despite all the votes of confidence he’s been given this week by his boss.  Maybe Dan Guerrero is just saying those things to keep the team from mailing in it on December 4th.  I know that most of you out there would prefer to see a change… so cross your fingers — You may still get what you want.  But if he manages to beat SC, I don’t mind giving him another year, to see what he can do with a healthy Offensive Line, who watched most of this season from the Trainer’s table.