CHRIS DUFRESNE / COLLEGE FOOTBALL MAILBAG

A few points, very few, to make about USC and No. 1 Notre Dame

Chris Dufresne takes time out (he gets three per half) each Friday during college football season to answer questions. Topics include the sport's best intersectional rivalry and the latest installment of the great BCS debate.

Question: Where do you put USC's chances of knocking Notre Dame off?

Chris Larsen

Answer: I put the chances smack dab between my bobbleheads of Tommy Trojan and Lou Holtz. Seriously, I think USC has a decent chance. My colleague Gary Klein made an interesting point this week about USC's defense. Coordinator Monte Kiffin has had nightmarish results trying to defend spread offenses in the Pac-12 Conference, but Notre Dame takes a more traditional, straight-forward approach.

With his NFL background, Kiffin is probably better suited to scheme against Notre Dame's offense than Oregon's.

USC probably does not have to worry about getting embarrassed by Notre Dame because the Irish average only 27 points, which ranks No. 73 nationally.

The heart of this Notre Dame team is a defense that allows only 10 points per game. There's a good chance this game will end up in the teens or 20s, and I'd be surprised if the final margin was more than 10 points either way.

Q: Pass the word to the Southern California football team that the worst is still to come. USC might think about giving up football after this week's rout.

Donald Ocke

A: I'm really busy this time of year, but I suggest you call the school yourself or write to Heritage Hall 103, Los Angeles, CA, 90089-0601.

Better hurry and lick that stamp before the USC football liquidation sale.

Q: When the officials put the USC football on the rainy ground for the center snap did you see it float?

Joseph Gutierrez

Cambria, Calif.

A: No, wow, I must have missed that while watching two members of the UCLA cheer squad take a gondola ride through the end zone of the Rose Bowl.

Q: How's this for a headline: "SC De-Mora-Lized"?

Roget Bardeau

A: That's brilliant. I'll keep it in mind for next year's game at the Coliseum — unless Mora has left already for another college job or the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles.

Q: 38-28! That good enough for you?

Jerry Guy

A: Are you talking about the UCLA score against USC, or did you recently judge two-thirds of a Miss Universe contest? If you are referring to UCLA's winning margin, I'll take any final score you want so long as all the games are noon kickoffs.

Q: As a USC fan, can we petition for "GameDay" to go to the UCLA game instead? They deserve it and we don't.

David Shapiro

A: That's very magnanimous of you David, but my guess is that "GameDay" is more interested in No. 1 Notre Dame this weekend than either UCLA or USC.

Q: Once again you go on about the BCS vs. playoff system without taking a position on why it matters. In my opinion, it doesn't.

Why do we need a champion?

Kevin Minihan

Los Angeles

A: Why do we need a champion? How else would we keep track of world putt-putt champions and the best chili cook-off recipes and soap box derby builders?

Please tell me you're not one of those orange-slice soccer dads who think all the kids should get a participation trophy. That happens too often in college football and all it does is breed a society of wimps who think the world owes them a living.

In 1997, Michigan thought it won the national title fair and square when it was No. 1 in both polls heading into a Rose Bowl it ended up winning. The AP voters kept Michigan at No 1, but the sentimental coaches voted Nebraska a share of the crown as a retirement gift to Tom Osborne.

Why couldn't they just get him a tie or a nice box of cigars? Cuff links always make a nice gift.

The BCS tried to solve this "everyone's a winner" theme but failed in 2003 when the No. 1 team in both polls, USC, was not invited to the national title game. That forced a title split — with Louisiana State winning the BCS and USC claiming the AP title.

I say leave the charity work for the Red Cross.

This four-team playoff in 2014 should weed out some of the weak links and settle the championship on the field.

Just look at how well the system would have worked this year. You could have one undefeated team (Notre Dame) and six or seven really good one-loss teams. All you have to do is choose among four of those schools and tell the rest they're just not good enough.

Oh, wait a minute. Maybe we need an eight-team playoff. No, make it 16, or 32, or 64, or 68 ...

Q: After 60-plus years as an avid college football fan, I give up. How about a rule that says if you play more than one lower division team in the season you are not eligible for the BCS championship, or playoff when that comes along?

Larry Levine

A: Sounds good to me, but sometimes a school gets stuck with a lower division team because another school backs out of a prearranged game.

This year, for instance, Oregon had to play Tennessee Tech because Kansas State backed out of a home-and-home series with the Ducks.

Q: Oregon loses to Stanford, a ranked team, in overtime. Alabama beat Western Carolina, unranked and unknown. Both teams now have one loss, yet Alabama leaps to No. 2 while Oregon drops to No. 5.

To quote Liz Lemon, "What the what?"

Jack Rosenberg

Goodyear, Ariz.

A: I know, I know, the BCS sometimes looks about as fair as a banana republic election. The Southeastern Conference has won the last six BCS elections because it has melded really good teams with really good schedule management.

There is no getting around the fact the SEC is a 14-team league that plays an eight-game conference schedule. The Pac-12 is a 12-team league that plays a nine-game schedule.

That leaves SEC teams to schedule an extra easy win on their schedule while Pac-12 schools get stuck with another league loss.

The SEC played seven 1-AA schools last week and by the end of Saturday three teams — Alabama, Georgia, Florida — were back in the national title race.

The SEC schedule also creates beneficial misses for some schools. Take a look at Georgia. The Bulldogs are a couple of chess moves from the BCS title game. They have the worst loss among the one-loss teams and their nonconference schedule featured Buffalo, Florida Atlantic and Georgia Southern.

Georgia's crossover games in the SEC West this year were against Auburn and Mississippi. Georgia missed Alabama, Louisiana State and Texas A&M.

Georgia's best win was over Florida, 17-9, in which star quarterback Aaron Murray had three passes intercepted.

Toss in a few outside upsets and Georgia is No. 3.

Q: Rutgers to Big Ten. Thoughts?

Steve Kelly

A: I'm thinking it's funny a team could end up winning its first Big East football title a few days after joining the Big Ten.

Q: I want Nate Silver for BCS committee guru.

Jim Slemaker

A: I was a big fan of Silver's New York Times blog during the presidential election and he has already branched off, with a recent analysis questioning how much value Maryland and Rutgers will bring to the Big Ten (not much).

I fear Silver would bring so much logic to any analysis of college football's top team he just wouldn't be welcomed.

Where was Silver when the sport let Nebraska into the 2001 title game?

I would love to see him do a thorough analysis of next week's BCS standings if Notre Dame loses and there are six or seven one-loss teams vying for two title spots. Too bad Ohio State isn't eligible for this year's election because Silver was pretty accurate calling the state of Ohio.

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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