Loss highlights USC's mediocrity

LOS ANGELES -- When it was over, when the ill wind that blew through the Arizona desert on Saturday night finally subsided, the USC Trojans were left standing there with their real identity exposed for all of us to see.

Contrary to what some tried to believe after they got by those three less-than-enthralling opponents at the top of their schedule, they aren't a top-10 team. They aren't a top-20 team. They aren't even a top contender in their crowded, new 12-team conference.

Turns out, they can be thrown right in there with the Washingtons and the Cals and all the others who belong in that murky area no one at USC could have imagined their team would be in just a few brief years ago.