Matt Barkley believes No. 10 USC is on a roll
Matt Barkley had no idea Southern California had planned
something special for his record-breaking 100th touchdown pass.
After connecting with Robert Woods for the school-record TD
during the No. 10 Trojans’ blowout of Colorado, Barkley watched the
massive Coliseum scoreboard with an even bigger smile as Matt
Leinart, Carson Palmer, Pete Carroll, Blake Griffin, Landon Donovan
and more Los Angeles sports luminaries offered taped
”It’s something I did dream of as a kid – not the records, but
to be able to be here for four years and live those dreams out as a
senior,” Barkley said. ”I never thought (the records) would
happen, but I’m trying to soak it up.”
Barkley came back for his senior season with the Trojans to make
history, and he got another piece of it during a win that moved USC
(6-1, 4-1 Pac-12) back into the top 10 after starting the season at
No. 1. USC routed Colorado 50-6 for its fourth straight win,
blasting the hapless Buffaloes on both sides of the ball.
Barkley kept the ball from the TD pass that moved him past
Leinart in USC and conference annals, but he’s confident the
Trojans are heading toward bigger achievements in January. To play
in the national championship game or the Rose Bowl, the Trojans
likely would need a perfect finish in the toughest part of their
schedule, beginning Saturday at high-scoring Arizona (4-3,
It’s a tall order, but Barkley would be in the NFL right now if
he didn’t think USC had the team to do it.
”I think we have a much better feeling in our stomachs after
this win, especially on the offensive side,” said Barkley, who
finished one dropped pass shy of a 20-for-20 performance while
setting conference records for completion percentage and
efficiency. ”The points we put on the board and the way we moved
the ball … that’s something we can build on for the future.”
Barkley also remembers last season, when the Trojans turned a
slow start into an outstanding 10-2 finish in the second year of
their NCAA bowl ban. In their fourth and fifth games of 2011, the
Trojans gave up 40 points in back-to-back contests for the first
time in school history, losing to Arizona State and barely holding
on for a 48-41 win over Arizona.
But something clicked in that win over the Wildcats, and the
Trojans improved steadily through their final seven games. USC lost
only in triple overtime to Andrew Luck and Stanford, and the
Trojans headed into their early winter with a road win over Oregon
– the eventual Rose Bowl and Pac-12 champions – and a 50-0
humiliation of UCLA.
”The seasons have been pretty similar,” USC coach Lane Kiffin
said. ”Like I’ve tried to say all along, you have to take the
whole year for evaluation. You have to wait for the whole thing to
come together. Sometimes you’re on the road a lot, or playing
Kiffin abandoned his recent caution with the passing game
against Colorado, allowing Barkley to throw downfield at Woods and
Marqise Lee while tailbacks Silas Redd and Curtis McNeal got just
six combined carries. USC also ran a no-huddle offense for most of
Barkley’s snaps, trying out another uncharacteristic tactic in
preparation for the big tests to come.
Barkley and his offense handled the hurry-up schemes with few
mistakes, and even the loss of starting left tackle Aundrey
Williams didn’t slow them down. Williams, who left the field on a
cart with an undisclosed injury, had been splitting playing time
with freshman Max Tuerk.
”It’s something that we practice throughout the year, and were
waiting for the right time (to use it),” Kiffin said of the
no-huddle. ”We didn’t take it lightly. The emphasis was to come
out firing. It kept our three receivers on the field and playing a
lot of time.”
The Trojans spent four of their first six games on the road, and
Saturday’s trip to Tucson is the final time they’ll leave Los
Angeles. Although the travel schedule is easier, their opponents in
November are much tougher: Oregon, Arizona State, UCLA and Notre
With back-to-back games on tap against the Wildcats and Ducks,
the Trojans will have to play fast. But now that they’re rolling,
Barkley thinks they might pick up speed.
”That rhythm and faster pace worked for us,” Barkley said.
”Regardless of whether or not we do it next week, it set a good
base for us.”