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Oregon the new USC?

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Not too long ago, USC was the big show in college football, not just the Pac-10.

That, at present, is no longer the case nationally or in the conference. But USC is still part of the conversation, even if it's folks talking about the Trojans absence.

Oregon players got plenty of "Are you the new USC?" questions this week.

"We’re not the new USC. We’re just Oregon," Ducks linebacker Spencer Paysinger said. "We’re not saying that we’re taking anything away from 'SC or that the power shift has happened. It’s just that we feel that Oregon is the premier team in the Pac-10 now. We’re not taking anything away from them. We’re just building up who we are."

The Ducks are two-time defending Pac-10 champions after the Trojans' run ended at seven years atop the conference. If the NCAA doesn't reduce sanctions against the Trojans, USC won't be in the picture again next fall, when the Ducks -- again -- will be overwhelming favorites, though the return of quarterback Andrew Luck to Stanford thickens the plot in the Pac-12 North.

The family of Oregon LB Casey Matthews has longterm ties to USC, but the Trojans didn't offer him a scholarship. He didn't seem too bothered by that this week.

"If you look at it now, I definitely chose the right school," Casey Matthews said. "But back then, if 'SC had offered me, I would have gone. That’s just how it was. I can’t complain with how things have turned out. They’re going through issues right now, and we’re playing for the BCS title. I can’t ask for a better ending to it all."