Utah, USC deserve look

The Baltimore Sun

Southern California coach Pete Carroll was still politicking moments after his once-beaten Trojans had dismantled Penn State in the Rose Bowl last week.

"I don't think anybody can beat us," Carroll said.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham is still too much of a neophyte in the world of big-time college football to have the same clout, or bravado, as Carroll, but his unbeaten Utes are clearly not wannabes after the way they trashed Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

Both USC and Utah can make a legitimate claim to this year's BCS championship, whatever happens tonight between Oklahoma and Florida.

How many teams over the years have lost early, as 12-1 USC did to Oregon State in late September, and gone on to win the title? Certainly more than have gone unbeaten, as 13-0 Utah has done, and not been in the conversation for No. 1.

If either the Sooners or Gators win big, they might have a strong case despite the fact they, too, lost a game early in the season.

Of course we all know what's going to happen. Either Bob Stoops or Urban Meyer will be hoisting the championship trophy late tonight - or, as some of these ridiculously commercialized bowl games have been going, early tomorrow - and their players will be pointing index fingers into the Florida night.

As they exit the 2008 season, the demand for a playoff will continue, and the debate about No. 1 will go on, especially for USC and Utah.

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