Those dark clouds USC head coach Lane Kiffin was referring to seem to be parting faster than ever. There was a glimpse of sunshine after their win on the road versus rival Notre Dame, but it wasn't until their stunning upset of then No. 4 Oregon when we really began to see patches of blue.
The marquee win at Oregon was followed by a 50-0 route over crosstown rival UCLA. Trojan fans couldn't ask for a better season. A 10-2 finish with a top 5 ranking in the AP poll, along with the top spot in the Pac-12 South division, all while the NCAA seemingly did everything in its power to hold the program down.
There is no official conference schedule yet, but PAC 12 officials have confirmed that USC and Oregon will meet in the Coliseum next season in what will be a potential top 5 matchup. It will be the Pac-12 version of this years regular season bout between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama, a game that featured the top 2 defenses in the country.
USC and Oregon are likely to meet again in the Pac-12 championship game, as they are both overwhelming favorites to win their respected divisions.
Now for the Trojans, they are without a doubt back on the map. Those dark clouds have now fully subsided, and there is again blue sky's above Heritage Hall, especially after quarterback Matt Barkley announced his decision to forgo the NFL draft to return for his senior season.
Barkley finished the season with a touchdown to interception ratio of 39-7, breaking Matt Leinart's school record for most touchdown passes in a single season. He also threw for 3528 yards completing 308 of his 446 pass attempts. The Trojans will return 19 starters for the upcoming 2012 season, setting themselves up for a top 5 preseason ranking and an opportunity to finally play in a bowl game after a two year suspension. Preferably, a BCS bowl game, and perhaps even a national championship.