When Patrick Turner and Rey Maualuga directed the Spirit of Troy (USC Marching Band) after a 38-3 blowout of Notre Dame, fellow USC seniors responded with their own display of emotion.
Although the Coliseum seemed joyful at the days events -- Oregon State had lost, and USC beat their longtime rival -- the excitement was tempered.
Yet again, the Trojans go to Pasadena for a Rose Bowl.
This is unlike the 2005 Rose Bowl, where the National Championship game took place, and USC lost a heartbreaker to a competitive Texas team.
This looks to be another version of more recent Rose Bowls: The Trojans' 32-18 demolition of the Michigan Wolverines, or their 49-17 blowout of the Illini.
"What? How can this be?" you may ask, "Penn State is only ranked one below USC in the BCS...this looks to be a fair matchup and a hell of a bowl game."
My friend, you are dead wrong. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal sports section says it best: USC: Best Team, Not Most Deserving (and yes, I am citing the Wall Street Journal, for all you commenters that like to take cheap shots).
By the end of the year, I promise that the media will be asking "Should USC have been in the BCS Championship after all?" It happened last year, and the year before. The question will arise again.
Defense wins championships.
We hear this again and again in football stories of old, and it seems to be pretty true. The most prolific offense in NFL history, the 2008 Patriots, did not win a Super Bowl. It was the fierce defense of the New York Giants that took home the Lombardi trophy.
Following this logic, USC would be well fit for the championship. They do have the #1 defense in the country, after all. For those who didn't know, the Trojans didn't allow the Fighting Irish a single first down until the last seconds of the third quarter.
Even though the Irish aren't up to normal standards, they're not that bad. USC deserves all the credit for their fine defensive work this season.
The USC Trojans have a championship caliber defense, the likes of which will rarely be seen in the future. 10 out of 11 starters are seniors, and the experience shows.
Yet the NCAA's best defense won't be in the championship that could immortalize them in history. They will be in the Rose Bowl, facing off against an overrated Penn State team.
Joe Paterno is an amazing fellow, and I have nothing against him. But the Big Ten is even worse than the Pac-10. USC thumped Ohio State, who finished the season 10-2, by 32 points.
When USC beat Illinois, it was a #8 vs #15 matchup. Not the closest, but the difference in quality surely showed.
When #2 USC somehow gave up a BCS spot to LSU, and played #3 Michigan instead, it was bound to be a great matchup...but expectations were far too great. USC again was undermatched.
Every year, the question is asked. This year, it is bound to be asked again.