With the BCS standings in their second week, a lot of the focus is on who deserves to be ranked where and how things may shake out by the end of the regular season.
One of the most intriguing arguments is pairing the résumés of the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Southern Cal Trojans.
While most in the media are giving USC the usual rub, is it really fair to write off the chances of the defending Big East champions?
It is easy to automatically give the edge to USC based solely on their storied history. Just look at Pete Carroll's winning percentage, the number of BCS bowls they have been to, and the number of NFL players that have come from the school. Clearly they are the better program in terms of national relevance.
Cincinnati has only had three 10-win seasons in the history of the program. Just last season they made it to their first ever BCS bowl game. This is a team that since its inception in 1885 has fewer conference championships (10) than USC has national titles (11). It is no wonder that the Bearcats seem to be getting little respect from the national media.
Right now, most in the media, as well as the supposed BCS experts, say that if both teams win out that USC will be ranked higher come season's end. Should the right circumstances present themselves, an 11-1 USC would play for a national championship while a 12-0 Cincinnati would be on the outside looking in.
The overall strength of schedule seems to favor the Trojans. Seven games into the season, USC looks to have played the better competition. USC's opponents played have a combined record of 25-25 while Cincinnati opponents are 21-29.
The Bearcats also look to be on the short end in looking at the end of the schedule as well. The remaining teams on UC's docket are 21-15. The rest of USC's opponents are 25-13.
USC has already played three teams that were ranked at the time they played. Cincinnati only boasts one victory against a ranked opponent. Each has two games left against currently ranked teams.
If you look at both conferences, it looks like a dead heat. Both the Pac-10 and the Big East currently have three ranked teams in the AP poll. They also each have one team in the "Others Receiving Votes" category.
The Big East, while looked on like a dirty stepchild to the rest of the BCS conferences, looks to have the better record out of conferences. The Pac-10 has a good record against the rest, going 20-8. The Big East, having more games against non-conference teams, are 28-8.
The two teams have one common opponent in Oregon State. USC won 42-36 at home in a game that the Beavers had a very good chance of pulling the upset late in the fourth quarter. Cincinnati played at Corvallis and came away with a more convincing victory, by the score of 28-18.
Both teams have had to play without their starting quarterbacks. USC went on the road to Washington with freshman sensation Matt Barkley on the sidelines. That didn't work out so well for the Men of Troy, falling to the Huskies 16-13.
Cincinnati welcomed Louisville with possible Heisman candidate Tony Pike nursing a shifted plate in his non-throwing wrist. The Bearcats won in a rout 41-10.
There are good points on both sides for who should have the better number in front of their name on the ticker each week. Ultimately, this will most likely be settled by the uninformed voters of the Coaches' Poll and the computer rankings. While USC will most likely benefit from their name value, Cincinnati is proving that this year they belong in the conversation with the nation's elite.
It would be a shame if an undefeated team from a BCS conference gets left out of a possible title game opportunity because of the perception of their league is lower than the reputation of a one-loss team. I guess this is the kind of situation that will bring up playoff over BCS talk again, but that is a rant for another day.