With the college football season officially over after Monday’s National Championship Game, the AP released the final Top 25 Poll. The USC football team ranks No. 3.
After starting the season 1-3 and left for dead, Clay Helton’s Trojans won nine-straight games including the Rose Bowl to earn the school’s highest final ranking in the AP Poll since 2008 at No. 3. Back then, under legendary head coach Pete Carroll, USC had seven-consecutive Top 5 finishes.
With a record of 10-3, the Trojans’ position in the poll is a result of their form, and a progressive move from the pollsters, who typically sort by the loss column.
Case in point, USC has a ‘worse’ overall record than the three two-loss teams behind them —Washington, Oklahoma and Ohio State— despite two having made the playoffs. Going into the Rose Bowl, the Trojans were ranked No. 9.
Ultimately, USC played six teams ranked in the final 2016 Top 25, going 3-3. The wins came over No. 4 Washington, No. 7 Penn State and No. 17 Colorado, while losing to No. 2 Alabama, No. 12 Stanford and No. 23 Utah.
Next season, the Trojans will face four teams ranked in the final poll, including a Week 1 matchup vs. Western Michigan, who finished the year ranked No. 15 after losing the Cotton Bowl to 9th-ranked Wisconsin.
Overall, this marks USC’s 20th finish in the AP Top 25 since the poll began in 1936. They started 2016 ranked No. 20.