Alright, it has been debated throughout the college football blog community as to whether or not the SEC can be forgiven for letting economics dictate out of conference scheduling, leading to a healthy dose of patsies with no real chance of putting up a fight. This drives SEC strength of schedule down and cost Auburn the chance to play for a national championship last season. A bigger college football sin, however, is being committed by USC this season as it attempts to win its third share of the national championship under Pete Carroll (and hopefully the first without controversy). Worse than playing a filler game against Northwest Directional A. M., USC has managed the perfect schedule for a championship run. They don't have any clunkers which might drive the strength of schedule down yet they've managed to have a schedule without a single legitimate threat to beat them. For you non-USC homers, ask yourself whether you wouldn't rather USC trade out a respectible non-conference but non-threatening opponent like say Fresno State for Furman in exchange for them playing at least one top ten team (whether in-conference or out-of-confernce) that could beat USC without USC having a rash of injuries, suspensions or playing their worst possible game coupled with the opponent playing their best.
Take a look at the mediocrity facing USC this season.
A mere two teams ranked in the pre-season coaches poll and even those are in the bottom half of the poll (18 and 19). If you look at the AP poll, you'll also see that Fresno State is ranked.... barely. Now, don't get me wrong, these are quality opponents which might have a reasonable shot at pulling an upset if USC had at least one legitimate threat that they might have just played and left it all on the field or that they might be looking ahead to. But none of these three teams should pose threat to USC in their own right. In fact, when we posed the question on our blog as to who USC is most likely to lose to, if anyone, Notre Dame and Oregon were the most popular suggestions. Folks, the combined record from last season of those "threats" is 11-12. That is just sad.
Compare that road to the championship game to other contenders like Texas (plays AP # 6, 7, 17, 21 plus a championship game), Tennessee (plays AP # 5, 10, 13 plus a championship game), Michigan (plays AP #6, 11), LSU (play AP # 3, 10, 16, 20 plus a championship game), and Ohio State (plays AP# 2, 4, 11). Every one of these teams will be in a situation to be beaten without it being a monumental upset. Wouldn't you love to see USC get tested this way too?
USC is the equivalent of FSU in the 1990.... if FSU didn't play Miami and Florida but instead played Boston College and West Virginia every year. FSU filled the NFL with pro-bowlers every year as USC seems poised to do and was always in the hunt. With the talent they had, how many titles would the Nole's have won if they didn't have to play two top ten teams every season? Don't get me wrong, they might be the best team in the country this year and even arguably for the last three years (too bad we can't say that definitely). It is just a shame that they won't really have to prove it this year. If they are not playing for the BCS Championship, it will be a collosal failure by Pete Carroll.