Oregon a welcome challenge for USC
OCT 31, 2012 8:03p ET
"We all knew we screwed up last week and should've won the game and we're moving forward," Kiffin said.
The moving forward part is easier said than done. The aftertaste of that defeat is still very bitter as the Trojans try to turn the page with No. 4 Oregon coming into town this weekend. Turnovers and penalties doomed the Trojans in a game in which they couldn't get out of their own way, succumbing to self-inflicted wound after self-inflicted wound.
USC lost the turnover battle to Arizona five to one. The lone turnover the Trojans forced, they gave it right back when Jawanza Starling picked off Matt Scott's pass and fumbled the return. That led to an Arizona touchdown and helped the Wildcats overcome a 15-point, second-half deficit.
"You got to get over it," Kiffin said. "I think we'd be naive to think that the game's completely out of sight, out of mind. For those really competitive players, there's still a play in there they're going to think about it for a long time. That should be natural."
With the Ducks flying south for the weekend, Kiffin acknowledges there isn't much time to sulk. In fact, he said playing Oregon this weekend is actually a good thing. Oregon is No. 4 in the BCS standings but Kiffin said they may be the best team in the country.
"It's good to have a game like this," Kiffin said. "It's good to have the next game be a big game with a national-ranked opponent like this so you don't sit around and keep looking backwards."
The Ducks are going to demand the attention of the players this week. If the Trojans blink, they may get left behind. Oregon has averaged nearly a point a minute this season, averaging 53.4 points per game. Chip Kelly's offense is running better than any other time when Kiffin has faced him.
"When you look at them, they're the best they've ever been themselves as well, too, in all the years we've been here, and I think the quarterback's the difference," said Kiffin, in his third year as USC head coach. Redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota has the offense humming. The Ducks are literally leaving their opponents in the dust.
"If you look at the old Oregon teams, they were still winning games, but they were winning a lot of games in the second half," Kiffin said. "You look at halftime scores, there would be a lot of really close games at halftime and then they'd go out in the second half. This is a different Oregon team.
"This team has taken care of almost everybody in the first half. You look at the points, (and) it's almost a point a minute in the first half and they've been resting their guys in the second half."
USC hasn't had many games this season where it could rest its starters in the second half.
Earlier this week, Kiffin pointed to the game against Syracuse, when the intentions were to rest starters in the second half but USC mistakes got in the way.
As a result, starters had to remain in the game and center Khaled Holmes was hurt and had to miss the following game --a loss at Stanford.
If USC continues its pattern of mistakes, Kiffin will be able to rest his starters in the second half, too, but it won't be because they're ahead.