USC Football: Trojans Back in National Title Hunt After Weekend of Upsets

Chris Hummer@chris_hummerAnalyst IOctober 8, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans celebrates a defensive stop late in the game with T.J. McDonald #7 during the game against the California Golden Bears at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 22, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Despite an early season stumble against Stanford, USC is now firmly back in the national title hunt after a weekend of upsets.

USC squeezed by a tough Utah team on Thursday, so the Trojans got to sit back and watch on Saturday as contender after contender fell. Four of the AP poll's top 11 teams lost on Saturday, including three of the top five.

That large number of upsets vaulted USC into the No. 11 spot in the polls, with plenty of time remaining to jump into one of the top two spots.

Even better for the Trojans, they have a number of marquee games remaining on their schedule, which will capture the national spotlight and the voters’ attention.

They have a showdown with No. 2 Oregon on Nov. 3 and end the regular-season slate with their annual matchup with Notre Dame, who sit at No. 7.

If they manage to win out to that point, they get to play in the Pac-12 championship game. There they would likely get another crack at the Ducks in a prime-time game, with the eyes of the nation upon them.

If the Trojans find a way to take all of those matchups, they would be a one-loss conference champion, with three victories over top-10 teams—a pretty hefty resume, and a hard one for voters to pass on.

That's not to say USC will just glide its way to a Pac-12 title though; the team has a long way to go. The Trojans still have not defeated a ranked team, and they've been in a number of close games with some teams that shouldn’t be able to stick with USC’s talent.

But the Trojans still have Matt Barkley, and it cannot be overstated how valuable outstanding quarterback play is. 

If Barkley begins to play at a Heisman level once again, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see USC lining up at the Orange Bowl this January.