Barkley unfazed being winless vs. Cardinal

Barkley unfazed being winless vs. Cardinal

Published Sep. 14, 2012 4:56 p.m. ET

LOS ANGELES --- It’s not easy to catch USC quarterback Matt Barkley off guard. He knew what facing Stanford was going to bring before he touched the practice field for the first time during Stanford week on Tuesday – talk about him being winless against Stanford.

“That’s the story of the week,” said Barkley during the Trojans first day of preparation for the Cardinal.

So, he was left to just grin and bear it …and answer questions.

Is there a certain amount of anxiousness facing Stanford in the conference opener?

“It’s just another game,” he said. “(We’re) just trying to be 1-0 this week.”

Does it eat at you that you’ve never beat them?

“No,” Barkley said.

Do you think about it?

“No,” Barkley repeated, shaking his head to emphasize.

Is it keeping you up at night?

Once more, he shakes his head no.

Apparently the rest of the country is more concerned with the fact that Barkley has never beaten Stanford than he is. When Barkley leads No. 2 USC into No. 21 Stanford on Saturday, he'll do so looking for his first career win over the Cardinal.

As far as definitions go, his definition of “Unfinished Business” is the sum of all things in the 2012 season and not Stanford specifically.  

“No. It happens to be the case,” said Barkley of being 0-3 against Stanford. “It’s not anything special to me though.

“I’m not hyped up for this game more than last week or a bowl game or anything like that.”

Barkley led a 95-yard game-winning drive at Ohio State as a freshman. He’s won in South Bend. He snapped Oregon’s 21-game winning streak at Autzen Stadium. He’s beaten everybody in the Pac-12, including the new guys Colorado and Utah, but not Stanford.

“Every quarterback has that nemesis,” said USC quarterbacks coach Tee Martin. “It’s that one game they’re going to give you their all. They’re good, you got to respect them. You want to leave out saying that you beat them.”

Martin has at least one win against every SEC opponent he faced in his two seasons as quarterback at Tennessee, which includes a victory over Florida. Martin’s teammate with the Vols, Peyton Manning was infamously winless against Florida in his career.

As a freshman, Barkley lost to the Cardinal 55-21 at the Coliseum in the famous “What’s your deal?” postgame exchange between then-Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh and former USC head coach Pete Carroll.

Current Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin says what has turned into a rivalry in recent years has become a lot friendlier. However, it doesn’t take away the fact that the Trojans have suffered back-to-back heartbreakers to the Cardinal.

In 2010, Barkley threw for 390 yards and three touchdowns. All three touchdown passes went to Robert Woods, who as a freshman amassed 224 yards receiving, but USC lost 37-35 on a field goal as time expired.

Last season, Barkley threw for 284 yards and three touchdowns, but fell to Andrew Luck and company in triple overtime, 56-48.

The Trojans were the underdogs in the last two meetings against the Cardinal. On Saturday, they’ll be favored but they can’t take that for granted.

“I always tell our guys ‘The devil is in the details. We got to be situational masters and get our details down for games that can be very evenly split,’” Martin said. “The series between Stanford and ‘SC, recently, has been that way. There’s been some close football games.”

Barkley, publicly, isn’t concerning himself with being on the losing end of those, but how he’s going to win the next one.

“It’s week three,” Barkley said. “We’re going up north (for) an away game. It’s nothing special about it.

“It’s just another game, we got to beat them.”

If so, it’ll be his first time doing it. After all, it’s the story of the week.