When the USC Trojans and the UCLA Bruins meet on the field it will be more than just a rivalry game. It will also be the last game of the season for the Trojans.
The Pac-12 has deemed the Trojans ineligible for the title game and that makes USC playing this game as nothing more than a spoiler. Playing out a two-year bowl ban filled with controversy has not been easy for the Trojans, but it could pay off in 2012. There is every reason to believe that the Trojans will be back in 2012 as BCS favorites.
USC coach Lane Kiffin has been through the tough times and will embark on the most important recruiting trip of his career. With all of the turmoil of this scandal behind him, Kiffin can begin working on the future and if this year is any indication, the future is bright for the USC football program.
The Trojans currently reside at the No. 10 spot in the AP Top 25 college football poll and have had some impressive wins this year. One of those wins that may have the most lasting impression was the victory over the top-ranked Oregon Ducks. If the Trojans and the Ducks are competing for the same recruit, Kiffin can point to that win as the main reason that recruit would select USC.
Another reason that the Trojans can succeed in the future is quarterback Matt Barkley. The young signal-caller has not announced that he will return for his senior season, but he has played through the tough times and now can reap the benefits of a championship season. Barkley would be comfortable in this offense, a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy and lead this team to BCS success.
This year, the Trojans are ranked in the top 10 in the polls, and if not for the ban, they would be playing for the Pac-12 championship. That kind of momentum can carry over from season to season, and it will be important on the recruiting trail. Despite the coaching change and the bowl ban, there is every reason to believe that the Trojans will be back and stronger than ever in 2012.
James Brown is a B/R Featured Columnist and can be followed on Twitter. Feel free to contact James at firstname.lastname@example.org.