A couple of USCs — one surprising, one not — are making noise

Long-cursed South Carolina, which lost the legal right to be called USC, is No. 3 in the USA Today coaches' poll. The Southern Cal of gridiron lore is No. 9 and looking strong since the Stanford loss.

Handshakes and helmet stickers go out to the two schools known as USC in this week's top 10 — we could not be more thrilled for the players and their families.

The USC at No. 3 lost the legal right to be called USC, so it will heretofore be referred to as South Carolina, "Southern Car" or "Spurrierville."

The USC at No. 9 in the latest USA Today coaches' poll has been known for years as the University of Southern California.

Both Southern Car and USC displayed the kind of extended-weekend grit that earns you resilience red ribbons from our blue-ribbon platitude panel.

South Carolina has reached heights never before thought possible. The football program stricken for a century by the "Chicken Curse" sits at the cusp of greatness within arm's grasp of the national title.

This is a school that has captured one conference title in its history — and it wasn't the SEC.

Spurrierville has won 10 straight games for the first time, and its 35-7 demolition of Georgia marked its third straight win against the Bulldogs — also a first.

"They can't say they own us anymore," Head Ball Coach Steve Spurrier said after Saturday's most impressive win.

The No. 3 poll ranking is South Carolina's highest since the 1984 team celebrated being No. 2 by losing to Navy.

The "real" USC also has reason to rejoice after climbing back from a 14-0 hole at Utah to win, 38-28.

Voters like that kind of road moxie and, with three top-10 schools suffering defeat, the Trojans picked the perfect weekend to mount a comeback charge.

USC moved up three spots to No. 9 in the coaches' poll and two spots to No. 11 in the Associated Press index.

Since the USA Today poll is the one used in the BCS standings, which debut next Sunday, this is real progress for a USC team written off as a tax loss after the Stanford loss.

USC has two remaining games against teams currently ranked in the AP top seven: Oregon and Notre Dame.

USC misses suddenly significant No. 10 Oregon State (whew) unless the teams meet for the Pac-12 title.

Can you get to the top, on Oct. 7, from No. 9?

Why not?

Others making our pat-on-the-back list:

-- West Virginia. We're not sure a team can win the national title giving up 63 points one week and 45 the next, but there is no denying the Mountaineers' "wow" power after Saturday's 48-45 win at Texas.

They said West Virginia couldn't run the ball after last week, so the Mountaineers promptly ran for 192 against the Longhorns.

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