USC can't afford to be excited

The nice thing is the record, 2-0. It sits there, admittedly a little wobbly, but still shining -- or is that winking? -- its way out of the darkness of USC's early sanction-shrouded season.

The next question is the interesting one, though: What does it really mean?

"We don't put people away," Trojans coach Lane Kiffin said, "but we're 2-0 and in first place in the South."

That's the new Pac-12 Southern Division, and although the Trojans aren't eligible to play in the conference championship game, they'd love to finish on top in the South and force the second-place team to engage Stanford or Oregon, or whomever captures the Northern Division.

It was imperative to beat new Southern neighbor Utah, which gets away without playing the Cardinal or the Ducks during the regular season, and thanks to Matt Kalil's long, NFL-sized arms, USC managed to do that, 23-14, although there were certainly some frayed nerves along the way.