Football season has been a little odd this year. Pundits have finally started to admit that the Big 10 is pretty lousy in college ball and the NFC South went from being thought of as a joke by the experts to becoming one of the stronger conferences in the league. There's not a single team in the group with a losing record, but the most surreal part of the season has been the relative quiet in the sports media when it comes to USC. Sure, the Pac-10 is total crap this year, having become the Mountain West Conference's prison bitch. Pac-10 teams didn't schedule those teams to lose. They probably paid the smaller schools to come in for an extra home team and an easy win. It hasn't worked that way.
Of course, USC did spend some time at the number 1 spot in the polls this year before losing to Oregon State, so they haven't been unfairly written off. Still, I've not heard much of the knobslobbing the team usually receives in the sports press. Despite the quiet, the team is scary good this year. Excusing the Oregon State game where they were having some important injury issues, they haven't given up more than 10 points all year, and ten only twice. On offense, they rarely have shown much sign of weakness. To top it off, this is the only team I can think of from the BCS conferences that doesn't even play a single mid-major, much less a Div. 1AA team. Its opponents are all Pac-10, ACC, Big 10, or Notre Dame teams. Virginia, Ohio State, and Notre Dame are all better than any of the unranked Pac-10 teams. USC probably won't make the National Championship game this season, but they will probably beat whoever they get matched up against in their bowl game.
Going back to the Big 10, I'm still not entirely sold on Penn State, by the way. They've really been manhandling their opponents this season, but the only legitimate non-Big 10 competition they've played is the Oregon State team that upset USC. Their offense also looked like it had been gutted by Ohio State, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt given that they won and Ohio State doesn't suck (despite its tendency to get overrated the past few years from running the schedule in its soft conference), the Buckeyes have a pretty good defense, and Penn State went in having not beaten Ohio State in Columbus in something like 30 years. Still, I'd be shocked if they managed to pull off a win against Texas, should Texas manage to finish without a loss. If Texas somehow lost and both Penn St. and Alabama ended up in the National Championship, I'd still put my money on an SEC win, but I don't think it'd be the embarrassment that filled that time slot the last two years.