Hawaii-Southern Cal Preview

Matt Barkley and Southern California are ready to take care of

unfinished business.

With Barkley back for his senior year and the top-ranked Trojans

eligible for the postseason again after a two-year ban, USC starts

a season of high expectations Saturday night at home against Norm

Chow’s Hawaii.

With USC ineligible for bowls the last two years due to NCAA

sanctions, Barkley wasn’t expected to be around once the Trojans

could again qualify for a postseason berth. He likely would have

been a top-five pick in the NFL draft in April, but he opted to

stay in school and will be among the early favorites for the

Heisman Trophy.

“I think it’s clear my love for USC and how much I love this

school and everything about it, and I wasn’t going to give it up

just for two games that we couldn’t play in,” said Barkley, who

guided USC to a 10-2 mark in 2011.

USC printed up shirts with the words “Unfinished Business” over

pictures of Barkley and T.J. McDonald, a safety who also returned

for his senior season. It’s clear that the Trojans’ leaders are

eager to compete for a national title.

“The unfinished business, that thought and that ideology is

really just one game at a time and to finish those games,” Barkley

said. “You see so much about finishing, and when you’re four years

at college, that concept of finishing, I want to end that on a good

note.”

Barkley was third in the nation last year with 39 touchdown

passes, two more than top overall draft pick Andrew Luck of

Stanford for the highest total in the Pac-12. The Trojans’

star-studded passing game features dynamic receivers in Robert

Woods and Marqise Lee, a duo that had 26 TD receptions in 2011.

Coach Lane Kiffin was concerned about his lack of depth at

running back before his program was able to take advantage of the

scandal at Penn State to obtain the services of Silas Redd, fourth

in the Big Ten with 1,241 yards rushing last year. Redd joins a

ground attack that includes Curtis McNeal, who ran for 1,005 yards

in 2011.

Seven defensive starters return, although three of the lost

starters are on the line.

“There’s going to be a lot of guys that have no experience

playing in our defensive line,” Kiffin said. “So the only way you

get game experience is the games.”

Standing on the opposite sideline will be a familiar face to USC

fans in Chow, who will make his head coaching debut. Chow served as

the Trojans’ offensive coordinator under Pete Carroll from 2001-04,

with Kiffin also on the staff.

“No one has more respect and admiration for the University of

Southern California football program than I do,” Chow said. “I was

fortunate to have coached there, great people, great coaches from

Mike Garrett to Pat Haden to Lane and all the coaches, I worked

with some of them. Two of my kids graduated from that school. But

you know what? It’s not about them, it’s not about them at

all.”

Since leaving USC, Chow has run into Kiffin each of the last

five years. Chow was the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee

Titans when they beat Kiffin’s Oakland Raiders in a regular-season

game in 2007 and a preseason game the next year.

Chow was UCLA’s offensive coordinator when the Bruins beat

Kiffin and Tennessee in 2009 and lost to Kiffin’s Trojans the next

year. In 2011, Chow served in the same role with Utah and his team

lost to USC.

“We’ve played him so many times,” Kiffin said. “My dad’s

(assistant head coach Monte Kiffin) played him at Tampa, we played

him at the Raiders and we played him at Tennessee and we played him

at two different programs here at UCLA and Utah. It’s kind of crazy

how many times we’ve played him.”

Chow inherits a team that went 6-7 and is picked to finish

seventh in its first season in the 10-team Mountain West

Conference. He has announced that Duke transfer Sean Schroeder will

be his starting quarterback.

Kiffin said this week that he is not familiar with the

left-handed Schroeder. The coach doesn’t seem too worried about the

Warriors, who are 0-7 all-time against the Trojans.

“This will be about us in this game, most openers are,” Kiffin

said.