USC had a 45-30 lead on Tulane in the Cotton Bowl with just 4:30 left to play in the game.

The Trojans then fell apart. A two-play, 63-yard drive in 16 seconds for Tulane pulled the Green Wave within eight points. USC muffed the ensuing kickoff and started at its own 1-yard-line. That possession ended in a safety and gave the ball right back to Tulane. The Green Wave then marched 66 yards in 12 plays, converting fourth downs twice, to score the game-winning touchdown in a 46-45 victory.

The Green Wave offense scored 46 points while being on the field for only 52 total plays. USC had a near-20-minute edge in time of possession. But the Trojan defense gave up 10.4 yards per play.

Given the way the Trojans fell apart in the Pac-12 Championship Game, another hard-to-stomach defensive performance in a New Year’s Six bowl led many on social media to question whether coach Lincoln Riley can bring defensive coordinator Alex Grinch back in 2023.

USC ranked among the worst teams in the country this season in yards allowed per play. Stopping opposing offenses was an adventure all year. And though Grinch is in his first season at USC, he’s in his fourth on Riley’s staff.

Here’s some of what was said: