College Football Preview: When Will the SEC's Reign End?

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Actually, Patrick, I'm with you. If any team is going to break the SEC sleeper hold on the BCS title, the Trojans and refreshingly direct quarterback Matt Barkley are the team to do it.

How good are the Trojans? No one knows, because they were banned from postseason play last year. But I watched them play UCLA in the annual grudge match between the two L.A. schools, made all the more riveting because 6-5 UCLA was headed to the inaugural Pac-12 title game in 9-2 USC's place. The final was a merciful 50-0—and I say merciful because USC could probably have hung a hundred on the overmatched Bruins. Barkley, the latest in a string of fresh-faced jocks to play QB 1 at Southern Cal, threw for 423 yards and six touchdowns in that game, then decided to return to USC for his senior season. Their regular season schedule is pretty soft—other than a trip to Andrew Luck-less Stanford and blockbuster home date against defending league champs Oregon, the Trojans should be moderate to heavy favorites in every game.

The question is: Would a 13-0 USC season be enough to lift them to the title game if last year's SEC scenario (one 13-0 team, one 11-1 team who lost only to the 12-0 team) repeats itself? The fan in me wants to say yes, because watching two uber-smug SEC fan bases and their equally insufferable players face off in another national title game might be too much to bear. However, USC's non-conference schedule includes Hawaii, Syracuse and Utah, hardly a murderer's row (their fourth non-con game is against Notre Dame, and as always the Irish could be good but probably won't be). Two wins over Oregon and a 13-0 record would probably—probably —be enough. Here's hoping the Trojans, Ducks or non-SEC team X can crash the party this year, because college football should be bigger than one semipro conference.

–Jake

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Patrick Hruby, Jake Simpson, and Hampton Stevens 

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