No. 6 USC football team from the Pete Carroll era: The 2002 Trojans
Pete Carroll's 2002 USC football team was similar to the 2006 team in that they finished fourth in the country and went 11-2. The only difference is that this team won the Orange Bowl, and not the Rose Bowl. Not much of a downgrade, is it? Not a downgrade at all obviously, and this team also had a Heisman on it.
Starting QB Carson Palmer had what many consider to be the greatest season in college football history. Palmer tossed for 3,942 yards to go along with 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Going for four more rushing touchdowns, it's remarkable that he put up these numbers with no Pac-12 Championship game back then. They used to just name a champion instead of playing a game for it.
The best part about the Orange Bowl wasn't just that they won it, but that they beat Iowa's brains out. They won 38-17. It was a terrific send-off for both Palmer and Safety Troy Polamalu, who both left that game and entered the NFL Draft. Palmer went first overall, and Polamalu went 16th. Clearly, this Carroll squad was in good hands due to not just coaching but the talent on the roster.