Avoiding the upset bug

LOS ANGELES -- They are the bogeyman of teams with dreams of grandeur and immortality. They are the Nightmare on Elm Street moments that unfold during the waking hours, which some call upsets and others call just plain choking.

Every team with aspirations for a national championship must face the reality that when you're the No. 1 team in the nation, staying on top is fraught with those proverbial pitfalls and stumbling blocks.

The University of Southern California and its storied 11 national titles has had numerous times when Mr. Upset ruined national championship ambitions, and times when Mr. Upset was sent packing on his merry way, igniting determination for an eventual title.