Nine games into the 2013 season and USC is experiencing a renewal under interim head coach Ed Orgeron.
Now 6-3, the Trojans have won three out of the last four games and should have been undefeated during that stretch except for the faulty leg of field-goal kicker Andre Heidari against Notre Dame.
This Saturday, USC faces 1-8 Cal on the road and most believe that when the final whistle blows at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, the men of Troy will run their record to 7-3.
Quite a remarkable departure from when USC was floundering at 4-3, but will it mark a return as a Top 25 team for the Trojans?
As of this writing, one lonely voter in the USA Today college football coaches poll thought enough of USC to include it in last week's rankings.
And let's face it, beating Cal in 2013 is not going to turn heads in the college football world.
But it is possible.
At least eight teams currently ranked in that same USA Today poll could be sporting 7-3 records after this week's games, and of those, three teams (UCLA, Wisconsin and Arizona State) could actually have a worse record than USC is presumed to have after Saturday.
However, there are still many other programs more highly regarded than the Trojans when it comes to national rankings.
Still on the outside looking in but with better records than USC include Texas (6-2), Houston (7-1), BYU (6-2) and Minnesota (7-2), among others.
Of course, the college football season is nothing more than an ongoing dress rehearsal, and ultimately, the only rankings that really matter are those conducted in the final poll.
But for the purposes of this article, the inclusion of USC into any top-25 poll will likely include a postponement for at least a week.
That is when the presumably 7-3 Trojans take on No. 6 Stanford at home in the friendly confines of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Win that game and USC finds itself back among the top teams in the nation.
Until then, though, expect for USC to remain on the fringes of national polls.
At least for the time being.
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