USC tailbacks Marc Tyler and Allen Bradford rank seventh and eighth, respectively, among Pacific 10 Conference rushing leaders.
But their standing in the game-day rotation has not been nearly as close of late.
Tyler started last week and carried a career-high 31 times for 160 yards in a USC victory at Arizona.
On Tuesday, he was still feeling the effects of his workhorse effort, but it was a marked improvement over how his body responded the day after the game.
"It was hard to sleep," Tyler said. "Hard to get out of bed."
Tyler, a fourth-year junior, rarely played before this season because of injuries. So he's not complaining.
"I would rather be sore than sitting at home like I was last year, watching," he said.
While Tyler is on track to start again Saturday at Oregon State, Bradford continues to look for opportunities.
The senior rushed for 131 yards against Minnesota and 223 against Washington, but a toe injury slowed him for several games and fumbling problems have limited him to one carry in the last two.
Bradford met with Coach Lane Kiffin on Tuesday to discuss his situation.
"It was a good conversation," Bradford said. "He told me what I had to do and I'll be in practice working on it and see what happens."
Bradford said Kiffin referenced former Tennessee running back Montario Hardesty, who carried the ball 282 times and fumbled only once last season.
"So he's kind of spoiled," Bradford quipped. "He just told me to keep it tight, work on that and we'll see what happens."
Quarterback Matt Barkley is nursing a hamstring strain, but he participated in all drills and appeared to be near full strength.
Barkley was hurt in the fourth quarter against Arizona while running for a first down.
"I don't really stride out all too often," he joked, "and it kind of got me right there."
Kiffin wanted to run a similar play later in the drive, but Barkley told him he would not be able to execute it.
"I wanted to give our offense the best chance to convert," said Barkley, whose pass to tight end Jordan Cameron was batted away by a defender.
Kennard makes grade
Linebacker Devon Kennard was the only USC player selected to the Pacific 10 Conference's All-Academic team.
Kennard, a sophomore communications major, was a second-team pick.
All other schools had at least three players selected to the team, which required a minimum 3.0 grade-point average.
Barkley and offensive linemen Khaled Holmes and Michael Reardon received honorable mention.
Kiffin on grievance
Kiffin confirmed that an NFL arbitrator denied his grievance seeking $333,000 from the Oakland Raiders for money he believed was owed him after his firing by Al Davis in 2008.
The arbitrator also denied a countergrievance by Davis.
"It seems like it was so long ago," Kiffin said. "I couldn't be more happy to be where I'm at right now. Every day I walk into here, I don't even think about it."
Kiffin said seldom-used cornerback T.J. Bryant has been trying to play through a shoulder injury that will be examined this week and could require surgery.