“Any time we put only seven points on the board, it’s pretty disappointing,” he said. “To come away with a loss, it doesn’t feel too good.”
Meantime, USC's quarterback situation remains unsettled.
Kessler started for the second consecutive game but was not given much of an opportunity to throw the ball downfield. He ran for a four-yard touchdown, but completed only eight of 13 passes for 41 yards and had one pass intercepted and returned for a touchdown.
Wittek played the second half, completing three of eight passes for 13 yards, with an interception.
The score was tied, 7-7, after two quarters that featured fans booing Kiffin's play-calling multiple times, most vociferously when Kiffin trotted up the Coliseum tunnel after a television interview.
USC had been outgained, 126 yards to 73, and had not converted any of its six third-down opportunities. Kessler ran for his touchdown in the second quarter, but he also had a late pass intercepted by Horton, who returned it 70 yards for a touchdown.
Wittek replaced Kessler to start the second half and, with the help of a personal-foul penalty against Washington State, moved the Trojans to the Cougars 15-yard line. But Washington State blocked Andre Heidari's field-goal attempt.
On the Trojans' next possession, they moved from their 44 to Washington State's 21 on five runs by Madden. But Wittek was sacked on first down and Heidari missed a 43-yard attempt.
The defense gave the offense a fourth-quarter opportunity when Devon Kennard batted down a pass, cornerback Torin Harris broke up another and linebacker Morgan Breslin sacked Halliday.
But the Trojans went three and out.
That set the stage for Washington State, which moved to USC's 30-yard line when receiver Dom Williams caught a pass and slipped defenders for a 49-yard gain.
“Despite how we played, I think that’s going to haunt most of the defense because we missed a couple tackles and gave them an opportunity to get in field-goal range,” Kennard said.
Furney's 41-yard field goal gave the Cougars a 10-7 lead with just more than three minutes left.
Horton's interception of a pass intended for freshman receiver Darreus Rogers ended the Trojans' chance to tie or win the game.
Halliday completed 26 of 38 passes for 215 yards for Washington State, which rebounded from last week's defeat at Auburn.
“In the second half, we truly believed we were going to win,” Washington State Coach Mike Leach said. “And that accelerated in the third and fourth quarter. Our composure and confidence rose in the fourth quarter.”
Kessler looked more relaxed than in his first start at Hawaii, but he seemingly was not allowed to throw downfield.
The Trojans managed the 7-7 tie at the break, thanks to a defense that stopped several Washington State threats.
After exchanging possessions, Halliday looked sharp, completing passes to Brett Bartolone, Kristoff Williams and Isiah Myers as Washington State moved from its 17-yard line to USC's nine.
USC linebacker Lamar Dawson pressured Halliday into an incomplete pass on first down and Halliday misfired again on the next play.