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Texas is on top of the Bowl Championship Series. But would the No. 1 ranked Longhorns be favored against No. 2 USC if they were to meet in the Rose Bowl to decide the national championship?

For right now the answer is a solid no. The Trojans would be a 5 ½-point favorite say the oddsmakers at

“Every college football fan in America is already predicting a USC-Texas national championship game, so we wanted to give bettors the earliest opportunity to wager on the highly anticipated Rose Bowl game,” said Simon Noble, bet shop manager for Pinnacle. “Although USC hasn’t looked particularly impressive in some of their wins this season, there is really no reason to doubt Pete Carroll, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and the Trojans in a big game.”

A number of professional handicappers feel this way, too.

“I believe USC is clearly the best team in the land, and despite their recent streak of non-covers and the close win at Notre Dame, I still would prefer USC over Texas at a touchdown or lower,” said Andy Iskoe. “The game is basically a home game for USC being at the Rose Bowl.

“Last year, USC trashed Oklahoma in a game many felt would be competitive and on which the line was right around pick’em. I was very much on the USC side then and would be again this season. If Texas keeps putting up impressive wins while USC continues along as they have in recent weeks, we might see that line drop to perhaps even a field goal.”

Dave Malinsky says the line is priced right. He too would lean to the Trojans at -5 ½.

“I would think that would be the right side,” he says. “Pete Carroll against Mack Brown in a big game is a big coaching edge to Southern Cal. I’m not sure about Texas’ ability to play from behind.

“Vince Young is having a great season statistically, but he still is not a real good passer yet. It’s easy to put up good numbers when you throw only when you want to. I’m not sure their passing attack is as good statistically as it appears.”

Jorge Gonzalez also likes the Trojans in this matchup.

“I think the coaching difference is huge,” Gonzalez says. “Carroll is a defensive genius. I’m not convinced Texas can throw the ball, and the Longhorns will need to pass to beat USC. The speed of USC’s linebackers and Texas’ inability to throw would be the downfall for Texas. Young won’t be able to run on USC’s linebackers.”

Gonzalez isn’t just impressed with the Trojans’ defense.

“USC has the best offense I’ve ever seen,” he says. “Reggie Bush is the best college football player I’ve ever seen. The nearly 12-yards per carry average he had against Notre Dame was off the charts.”

Ted Sevransky ranks USC No. 1 and Texas No. 2 in his weekly power rankings. He said, though, taking USC isn’t a slam dunk.

“The one thing you can’t negate is Texas has the better defense and would be catching points,” Sevransky says.

While conceding Texas has played a fairly weak schedule with this being a down year in the Big 12 Conference, Sevransky isn’t buying into the belief that USC would have a vast coaching edge on the Longhorns.

“When you talk good coaches and bad coaches, I think it varies from year to year with the coach and team,” he says. “This year the Texas players have responded well to Mack Brown.”

While it’s interesting to see a line up on this matchup, USC and Texas have a long way to go before they can meet for the national championship. The Trojans have a December date with unbeaten UCLA, and the Longhorns may get passed in the BCS rankings because they’ve met all the good teams on their schedule already.

“Virginia Tech isn’t far behind these two teams,” Sevransky says.

Recognizing that, Pinnacle has USC -7 ½ against Virginia Tech and Texas -2 ½ against the Hokies if they should happen to meet in the national title game.

You also can’t count out Georgia and Alabama in the tough Southeastern Conference. For now, though, it’s Southern Cal and Texas.

Stephen Nover is a handicapper with Covers Experts.

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