USC is going to beat Ohio State, but I'm going to stop pushing this as a "de facto playoff" game. (Although I will still argue that it represents why the college football regular season rules.)
Because, as I pointed out back before the season started, losing this game likely doesn't hurt that team's chances of being in the BCS title game.
For the winner? Obvious returns: They take the pole position for one of two BCS slots; in the event three BCS-conference teams all go unbeaten, this game's winner gets not an edge, but THE edge.
For the loser? Let's say it's Ohio State. First of all, if/when they win out and go 11-1, they will have a pretty good on-paper resume -- Big Ten Champ, only loss to the nation's No. 1 team on the road without the use of their best player.
If there is another BCS-league unbeaten besides the winner of this game (again: assume USC for the sake of argument), OSU is S.O.L.
But if USC is the only unbeaten, only a 1-loss SEC champ would likely have more cred than a 1-loss Ohio State. (With a 2-loss SEC champ, like a year ago? OSU's dream scenario.)
Even if OSU loses. Even if OSU loses BIG (as I predict they will). You can expect for Buckeye Nation (led by spokesperson Kirk Herbstreit) to lay low for a little while, then begin the lobbying as soon as they obliterate Michigan to finish off an 11-1 season.
"Oh, we played that USC game without Beanie Wells. It's a totally different team now. A better team. The No. 2 team in the country. It's not a rematch -- it's the game you thought you'd see back on September 13."
File it away. This will happen. So, at least for now -- for this particular Ohio State team -- this notion of "Each week is a playoff" simply doesn't hold up.
(Now, if Ohio State manages to win without Beanie at USC? Hell, I'll stick them at No. 1 and give this team a completely clean slate -- no holding 06 and 07 BCS title games against them.)
Complete CFB Top 25 picks coming at 11:30 a.m. ET.
Meanwhile, there's Pats-Jets. (Week 2 NFL picks coming this afternoon.) There's K-Rod. There's Ike. Here's the complete SN column for today.