One splash of cold water

LOS ANGELES -- The Dark Knight hasn't been the only thing rising around here this summer. USC's football expectations have been rising right along with him.

Not that any of it was unexpected once Matt Barkley made his now famous return announcement back in December, turning so many skeptical boosters into gushing die-hards again.

The Trojans are back, baby. Light up the polls and make your BCS championship game reservations now. The 2012 season is destined to feel as exhilarating and satisfying as one smooth Kelly Slater ride through the heart of a giant Malibu wave.