With precisely one game each played, there's not a whole hell of a lot of data to use for this USC - Ohio State shebang tomorrow, which is why so many people are resorting to thematic comparisons (You can't win anything with a freshman, the honor of the Big 10 is at stake, etc.) I'd like to switch it up and look at some other points of comparison. What's the decisive irrelevant factor? Read on...
TRADITION! (filmed in Columbus yesterday, by the way.) In a nice bit of symmetry, the Buckeyes have 7 national championships and 7 Heisman winners. USC, on the other hand is more lopsided with 11 national championships and 7 Heisman winners (plainly something needs to be done about that...) Still, not a definitive factor.
COACHES: Jim Tressel's record is 84 - 19, and for all that people, possibly including this correspondent, may smirk at recent bowl game implosions, the fact remains that Tressel has had the Buckeyes prepared and consistent during his tenure. Pete Carroll's record is 89-15, but his coaching kryptonite (aside from Vince Young) is the teams that the Trojans go to sleep on... which most people give him a pass for. If Jim Tressel were to be bitter, that would be a good starting place.
Also, both coaches are, according to rival fanbases, notable for their total disregard for NCAA rules, and deserve their nicknames of Cheaty Petey and CheatyPants McSweatervest. While Jim Tressel nearly edges this one for flair of nickname, it's a push.
EMBARRASSING FORMER PLAYERS: Mo Clarrett plainly gets left in the dust by OJ Simpson on this one, but since USC pretends that OJ Simpson only went rotten later in life, I'm not going to count him and I will extend the same courtesy to our Buckeye colleagues.
ALUMNI: while Ohio State definitely has more US politicians and plenty of Olympic athletes, USC edges them in foreign Prime Ministers and Olympians overall. Plus, SC has a lock on the coveted category of "alumni indicted over Watergate," which is nothing to sniff at. Heck, we've even got Salvatore Ferragamo in the mix, which is very stylish.(If OJ Simpson had worn Ferragamo's instead of Bruno Magli's, we could have kept a degree of vertical integration in the scandal, but that would require admitting that Simpson had anything to do with USC after he went to the NFL, so never mind...)
But it was perusing those lists that led me to to what, in my mind, has to be the most irrelevant factor ever - and you won't be surprised to hear that it favors USC: old school movie heroes. USC has John Wayne, which shouldn't require further elaboration, and Buster Crabbe, an Olympic swimmer who also played Tarzan, Buck Rogers, and Flash Gordon. Which means that even before Neil Armstrong got an MA from USC, it was a case of space, bitches. (I'm not even counting Tom Selleck because so much sexy would cause your monitors to sizzle, and he didn't get started in the black and white era.)
Therefore, I submit to you all: USC over Ohio State, on the strength of our pre-war matinee idol roster. FTW.