The 2011 season is over. That means report cards are due.
Up next: USC.
Offense: USC ranked fourth in the Pac-12 in total offense (456.8 yards per game) and third in scoring offense (35.8 points per game). It ranked fourth in rushing offense at 162.6 ypg and second in passing efficiency. The Trojans' offense took off late in the season -- averaging 43.6 points per game over the final five games -- as quarterback Matt Barkley took off. Barkley led the conference with 39 TD passes and finished second in the Pac-12 and eighth in the nation in passing efficiency. The offensive line yielded just eight sacks, tied for the fewest in the nation. The Trojans' 48.3 conversion rate on third down was second in the conference and 10th in the nation. Questionable numbers? The Trojans weren't great in the red zone, and their six red zone turnovers were second worst in the conference. And 11 fumbles isn't good. Two Trojans offensive players made first-team All-Pac-12 and three others made second team.
Defense: The Trojans ranked fourth in the conference in total defense (374.8 ypg) and third in scoring defense (23.6 ppg). They ranked second against the run (111.4 ypg) and fourth in pass efficiency defense. Their 2.58 sacks per game ranked fourth in the conference. The defense was good in the redzone, forcing five turnovers. But overall the defense didn't force many turnovers -- its 17 ranked tied for ninth in the conference (not including the bowl games). Three Trojans made first-team All-Conference, and two others made second-team. Year 2 under coordinator Monte Kiffin was much better than Year 1.
Overall: The Trojans were mostly a forgotten team after they lost at Arizona State on Sept. 24 and then barely hung on against Arizona a week later. But USC transformed over the final seven games of the season. Its lone loss during that 6-1 stretch was in triple-overtime to Stanford, and it featured a win at Oregon and five double-digit victories, including a 14-point win at Notre Dame and a 50-zip whipping of rival UCLA. USC won the South Division -- though NCAA sanctions made it ineligible for the inaugural Pac-12 title game -- and finished ranked in the top-five. And, of course, Barkley made big headlines when he announced he was returning for his senior season, shocking many because he would have been a top-10 NFL draft pick. Further, in the big picture, the Trojans success changed the image of coach Lane Kiffin. Previously skeptical pundits were forced to ask: "Hey, maybe this guy can coach after all?"