TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Southern California came into the season with a Heisman Trophy front-runner, some of the most dynamic offensive players anywhere and its two-year postseason ban over.
The Trojans were the preseason No. 1, their aspirations a first national title since 2004.
After a mistake-filled loss to Arizona on Saturday, those national-title hopes have quickly gone out of reach.
At this rate, if USC doesn't play well down the final stretch of the season, it might not even play for the Pac-12 title, much less the BCS championship.
"From here, we are just going to stick together," quarterback Matt Barkley said after the 39-36 loss to the Wildcats.
The Trojans went into Saturday's game in control of the Pac-12 South, their national-title chances slim, but at least still there.
USC put up some big offensive numbers against Arizona, none more eye-catching than receiver Marqise Lee's Pac-12-record 345 yards receiving on 16 catches, along with two touchdowns.
Barkley filled up the stat line, too, throwing for a school-record 493 yards and three touchdowns as the Trojans rolled up 618 yards.
USC spoiled it with common themes from this season: undisciplined penalties and Barkley's inconsistency.
The Trojans have been the most penalized team in the Football Bowl Subdivision (10.25 for 84.63 yards per game) and were at their flag-inducing worst against the Wildcats
Safety T.J. McDonald was called for a taunting foul on a third down to keep Arizona's opening drive alive, setting up Matt Scott's 8-yard touchdown pass to Johnny Jackson.
Defensive lineman Leonard Williams also got carried away on a tackle in the first half, ripping off Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey's helmet off for another personal foul.
The Trojans had 13 penalties in all, losing 117 yards and leaving their coach unsure of what to do about their lack of discipline.
"I'm open for any suggestions," USC coach Lane Kiffin said. "I've tried it all."
Barkley had some problems of his own.
He made a surprising return for his senior season, instantly becoming a Heisman Trophy front-runner.
Like USC's national-title chances, his shot at the Heisman appears to be gone.