LOS ANGELES (AP) -Winning the Pac-10 title and going to the Rose Bowl has been the primary goal at Southern California under coach Pete Carroll.
Of course, the fifth-ranked Trojans always shoot for the national championship, but the system puts it out of their hands, epspecially if they go unbeaten during the regular season.
So Carroll prefers to focus on an area where his team has total control.
However, as they prepare to face their two biggest rivals to finish the regular season, the Trojans could find themselves falling short of the Rose Bowl and the BCS title game despite having lost only one game.
Considering the alternatives, though, that might not be so bad.
ly a couple weeks away from figuring it out. We've waited this long, I think we'll probably be able to make it. We'll just hang on for a bit.''
One possibility is the Fiesta Bowl, where the Trojans could face one of those Big 12 South powers, such as Texas or Oklahoma.
Another is the Sugar Bowl, against an SEC heavyweight.
``It would be exciting to play one of those teams,'' USC cornerback Cary Harris said. ``I'd like to see us playing somebody like that, it would be a good challenge. (But) the Rose Bowl is still the goal.''
USC (9-1, 7-1 Pac-10) is heavily favored to beat intersectional rival Notre Dame (6-5) on Saturday night at the Los Angeles Coliseum and crosstown rival UCLA (4-6, 3-4) on Dec. 6 to finish the regular season.
No. 17 Oregon State will represent the Pac-10 in the Rose Bowl if the Beavers beat No. 19 Oregon on Saturday by virtue of its 27-21 victory over USC two months ago.
And the Trojans will likely be shut out of the national championship game unless those SEC and Big 12 teams in front of them in the BCS standings take another loss.
No. 6 Penn State likely awaits whichever Pac-10 team gets to the Rose Bowl.
USC has played in the last three Rose Bowls, and some of their supporters are rooting for Oregon State so the Trojans get a change of scenery.
rs feel the same way, although it's unlikely they'll say so publicly.
``We always try for the Rose Bowl,'' defensive end Kyle Moore said. ``(But) it would be kind of nice to experience a different bowl. I would like to see a game like that, especially against Texas, to see how they'd do against us without Vince Young.''
The Longhorns rallied to beat the Trojans 41-38 three years ago in the Rose Bowl, which was designated as the BCS championship game.
``I'm not going to stake a claim on, `Let's go play these guys, it would be great for this or that,''' Carroll said. ``It doesn't matter to me at all. It will matter a lot when it comes up, when it's time. Until that, stay with the principles of trying to win this conference. In my mind, I don't have any different feelings about it.''
Carroll chuckled when asked his feelings regarding President-elect Barack Obama calling for a playoff system in college football.
``I'm thrilled about it,'' said Carroll, a longtime proponent of a playoff system. ``I think he's obviously followed well from the leadership from some of our coaches. I think it's interesting to me that he has an ear for it, and he understands the sense of competitiveness and the competition in our country that makes this an issue.
what Americans are all for. For him to latch onto that I think is a sign that he's in touch with stuff.''
The Trojans have won their last six games against Notre Dame including a 38-0 triumph at South Bend, Ind., last year for their longest winning streak in the 79-game series. The Irish have lost four of their last six games including an embarrassing 24-23 setback at home to woeful Syracuse last weekend.
``We have to prepare for them like they're the outstanding team they are,'' USC defensive end Clay Matthews said. ``They have the tools to be a great team.''
Carroll called the Notre Dame-USC rivalry unique.
``I don't think there are many rivalries that cross this much distance,'' he said. ``I mean, all across the country there's the in-state rivalries, the crosstown kind of situations, logistically, that just kind of stir the whole pot up, like we have with the UCLA matchup here.
``Two storied, legendary programs in college football have held on to this matchup, and they've made it a great rivalry.''
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