The BCS Championship as we know it is officially over, and with the arrival of the new College Football Playoff, we take one quick step back to evaluate the final postseason rankings from this season.
Interestingly enough, No. 19 was the highest position USC had been slotted this year after entering the season 24th overall. This comes after just completing its second 10-win season in the past four years.
In terms of the overall look of the conference, Pac-12 champion Stanford (11th) finished outside the Top 10, and second overall in the conference behind Oregon (9th) in the final AP Poll. The Cardinal's loss gave way to Michigan State, who finished the season third overall behind BCS National Championship opponents FSU and Auburn.
After dismantling the Texas Longhorns in what's now officially Mack Brown's final game as head coach in Austin, the Mark Helfrich-led Oregon Ducks finished the season 9th overall in what could be considered a preview for next year's championship run now that Marcus Mariota has announced he will be returning to Eugene next season.
The next Pac-12 school ranked was crosstown rival UCLA, who defeated the Trojans in the Coliseum over Thanksgiving Weekend and also took care of business in El Paso over Virginia Tech; ending their season 16th overall.
The Trojans follow, interestingly enough, slotted ahead of Notre Dame and Arizona State, which both defeated USC earlier this season. In the AP Poll, Notre Dame and ASU (20th and 21st) were right behind USC in the standings, which looks to be the result of lackluster bowl performances combined with the Trojans' dominant display.
And finally, the team where Steve Sarkisian coached for the past four seasons finished out the season with an impressive Fight Hunger Bowl victory over BYU, finding themselves as the No. 25 ranked squad in the AP Poll and was named the next-best award, or just 26th overall by the Coaches Poll.
Just for a quick tease, Mark Schlabach has USC ranked 14th overall in his Way-Too-Early Top 25 Rankings. Schlabach is impressed with the stable of running backs (Justin Davis, Buck Allen, Ty Isaac) returning to Troy next season along with defensive stars Su'a Cravens and Leonard Williams, who will take center stage in Justin Wilcox's free-flowing defense next season. That being said, USC should have plenty of competition next year with five other Pac-12 schools and Notre Dame in the same rankings.
It was the best of times and quite honestly the worst of times this season for USC. But through four coaches, a slew of injuries and rough losses to rivals UCLA and Notre Dame on the biggest stage, the football program finished with 10 victories and also defeated the Pac-12 Champion Stanford Cardinal in dramatic fashion under interim coach Ed Orgeron.
It may not have been the type of season we all would have expected, but new head coach Sarkisian hopes to carry this late-season momentum into the new-look 2014 campaign. And it all starts by dominating NATIONAL SIGNING DAY on February 5.