Hogue: Everything on line for Trojans 

November, 16, 2012
For USC, the variability of what could happen in the next three weeks is pretty crazy to think about. Let’s run through the scenarios.

[+] EnlargeMatt Barkley, Lane Kiffin
Matt Kartozian/US PresswireThe USC legacies of Matt Barkley and Lane Kiffin will be on the line during these final two regular-season games.
First, let’s assume the Trojans the table. They beat UCLA, then a top-three Notre Dame team, then win the Pac-12 championship at Autzen Stadium by knocking off the No. 2 Ducks. Doable? Absolutely. Likely? Mmmm … no. But it wouldn’t be crazy. If all that happens, the Trojans work their way back into the conversation as an elite team, and complete one of the major in-season turnaround projects of all time. Lane Kiffin will have redeemed himself. Matt Barkley gets his Rose Bowl. The award-season attention on Marqise Lee would be tremendous. And the Trojans would set themselves up for a major run at the national championship in 2013, with young offensive and defensive fronts returning, a strong recruiting class coming in and two (maybe three) young quarterbacks fighting to become the heir apparent to the most coveted position in college football -- throwing to No. 9, among others.

Now, let’s go to the other end of the spectrum and consider what happens if USC loses to UCLA and Notre Dame. Then, there is no Oregon rematch. Likely? No. Possible? Absolutely. USC would almost assuredly drop out of the rankings. Its bowl game options are closer to Christmas than New Year’s. The pressure on Kiffin would be enormous, with major staff changes being made, at the very least. Barkley’s stature in program history would pale in comparison to expectations coming into the year when some called him the greatest Trojan ever. And the forecast for 2013 would be cloudy, with doubts about USC’s ability to hold this recruiting class together while starting to feel the effects of scholarship reductions.