Emerald Bowl

USC (8-4) vs. Boston College (8-4)

Dec. 26, 8 p.m., (ESPN)

Raise your hand if you predicted the Emerald Bowl for USC in the preseason?

You are not alone -- the Trojans surely didn’t see this for themselves either after seven consecutive BCS bowl games as Pac-10 champions.

A four-loss season feels bad around Heritage Hall, but a five-loss one would feel worse, and that could happen if the Trojans take the Golden Eagles lightly.

BC can play D. It ranks 23rd in the nation in total defense and 18th in scoring, giving up just 19 points per game. It held Notre Dame to just 20 points in a loss.

USC’s defense has played well at times, and the Eagles don’t have much of an offense, ranking 71st in scoring and 97th in total offense.

Quarterback Dave Shinskie threw two interceptions in the first five games. He threw 11 in the next seven, including four in a loss to North Carolina.

Of course, Trojans freshman quarterback Matt Barkley faded badly late in the season, and the USC offense was decidedly mediocre by most measures over the final five games.

The most important element might be who wants it more. This is a long trip for BC, but it likely will be excited to test USC. Hard to say if the Trojans will match that excitement.