The Trojans have everything and nothing to play for on Saturday.
Since day one, Lane Kiffin has set a simple goal to win the next game, the game in front of them.
In the grand scheme, they don't have a BCS ranking to worry about nor will any bowl be sending invitations. The undefeated ship sailed away against Washington and the conference championship was lost in battle to Oregon and Stanford.
While the current Trojans have their flaws, desire has gone unquestioned so far, but it will be challenged the next two weeks.
Last Spring, the men's basketball team banned themselves from March Madness after a bright non-conference season.
Without a dance card to fill out, Kevin O'Neill's squad refocused on the regular season conference title, but those hopes slowly faded too. In the end, the hoops team dominated their rivals, sweeping UCLA, and played a respectable 6-3 at home against Pac-10 teams.
But late in the season, especially on the road, where conference foes were scrapping for resume building wins, USC did not have the same edge as their opponents. The Trojans dropped their final five games and finished 2-7 on the road in the Pac-10.
Effort was not the problem. They were never beaten by more than 10 points, but they could not close out victories that were within their grasp.
Football and basketball are different. With only one game a week and far more talent and tradition, expectations are higher on the gridiron. If they fade away in the final four games, people will notice.
I see zero signs of a Trojan collapse. They still have both rivalry games on the docket, which will stir their young souls, but the next two weeks fall into the basketball pattern.
Arizona is playing their best football in recent program history. In front of a home crowd on a cool desert night, they will be desperate to maintain their foothold in the rankings and position themselves for Holiday Bowl redemption after least year's embarrassing loss.
Oregon State is stuck at 4-4 needing two wins to gain bowl eligibility, but they close the season with Stanford and Oregon, so USC might be their swing game.
The Trojans' season will be defined against Notre Dame and UCLA, but their character will show through over the next two weeks.
Can the perennial bullies embrace the role of conference spoilers? The answer is the difference between 10-3 and 8-5.
(Photo by Jon SooHoo)