Pac-10 finally grabbing spotlight

Saturday's Cal-USC matchup gives the Pac-10 a chance to showcase its two best QBs and two best teams.

Updated: October 7, 2004, 7:27 PM ET
By Rod Gilmore | ESPN Insider
Hell just froze over! The Pac-10 will be at the center of the college football universe when No. 1 USC hosts No. 7 Cal on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC). How big is this game? GameDay will be there. Chris, Lee and Kirk will endure ungodly wake-up calls to meet the show's 7:30 a.m. West Coast start.

This kind of event happens regularly in the Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC. But it almost never happens in the Pac-10. A Pac-10 regular-season game has not generated such buzz in a long time. Blame it on the East Coast bias or the conference's refusal to acknowledge that defense is actually a part of the game.

If the East Coast bias isn't dead, it's on life support. USC was voted co-national champs last year and the Trojans' Carson Palmer won the Heisman Trophy in 2002. USC's return to prominence (and dominance) has generated more national interest in the Pac-10. Cal was the only team to defeat USC last year – a 34-31 loss that cost the Trojans an undisputed national championship.

Rod Gilmore

College Football analyst
Rod Gilmore serves as an ESPN studio analyst on SportsCenter and College Football Live, and provides commentary on ESPN's Friday night game telecasts. He writes regularly for ESPN Insider.