With USC's own personal "albatross" looming on the horizon this Saturday, the time has come for the Trojans to shake off the cobwebs that have accompanied the start of the 2012 season and live up to the avalanche of hype that comes with being regarded as one of college football's best programs.
Along with dealing with a top-20 Stanford team that has beaten USC three straight years, the Trojans will also be looking within to find the kind of consistency that will be needed if the men of Troy truly expect to find themselves in this year's National Championship game.
But first thing's first.
That beginning step starts on the road against a formidable Cardinal team that has absolutely no fear of the Trojans, No. 2 ranking and all.
For the cardinal and gold to win their biggest game so far in 2012, it will take a much sharper performance than anything they have delivered so far.
This slideshow will look at what the Trojans will need to do to break the Cardinal's winning streak and justify their lofty status on college football's landscape.
Though there are many things that USC will have to do well this Saturday, here are the five that are most important.