Matt Barkley of USC Must Take Notes During BCS Championship
USC Quarterback Matt Barkley cemented his legacy as a Trojan after he decided to leave millions of dollars on the table from an NFL contract and come back for his senior year.
Barkley had the best season of his collegiate career by far throwing for 3,528 yards and a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 39/7. His 161.2 quarterback rating was also the sixth-highest in the nation.
But now that decision has been made, what will his first order of business be to prepare for next season? Well, it should start on January 9 when Alabama takes on LSU in the BCS National Championship game.
Here's why Barkley should attentively watch the BCS Championship game and an overview of how he got to this point in his career.
How We Got Here (Probation)
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In case you haven't heard yet—and I hope you have—the NCAA put the hammer down on USC in 2010. Whether or it not was justified is another story, however.
But the punishment, nonetheless, included a two-year bowl ban, four years of probation and a loss of scholarships. What stung the Trojans the most was the two-year ban from any bowl game. It was a tough two years for both players and coaches since it's hard to maintain motivation when a bowl game of any sort is out of the question.
This year was especially difficult because USC could've, and should've, had a chance to play in the Rose Bowl. However, the sanctions allowed the UCLA Bruins—a team that USC beat 50-0 nonetheless—to play Oregon—a team that USC beat this season as well—for the Pac-12 championship.
Can you see how this might frustrate Trojan fans a little bit?
Barkley Comes Back to Play for BCS Bowl Game
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Now enter Matt Barkley: a player who has gained much respect from his teammates and coaches, as well as college football fans alike, for his ambition and dedication to bring a BCS Championship trophy back to his school.
But was winning a BCS Championship the main reason Barkley decided to come back? It might not be the only reason, but it certainly factored into the decision because of all the perks that will come along with it.
If Barkley is somehow able to lead the Trojans to a BCS Championship in 2012, he could potentially become the greatest quarterback in USC history. Now before all you Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart fans close the window and grumble to yourselves, "just another typical Bleacher Report article," hear me out.
As Mark Saxon of ESPN writes,
Barkley already has thrown eight more touchdown passes than Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer did as a Trojan. By the end of the 2012 college football season -- assuming he stays healthy -- he will have thrown for more yards, more touchdowns and with a comparable completion percentage to Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart.
Statistically, Barkley could be considered the best quarterback in USC history. And if you watched the Trojans play in 2011, you would've noticed the chemistry that he developed with his receivers, Robert Woods and Marquise Lee. With another year throwing to those targets and furthering his relationship with each of them, who knows what type of numbers Barkley could put up next year.
But there's one thing that the critics and the Palmer lovers still have going for them: Barley's lack of a BCS bowl win.
Leinart has one. Palmer has one. Heck, even both of them have Heisman trophies. But Barkley doesn't have either and that undoubtedly played a huge factor in his decision making.
How Barkley Can Get to the Promised Land
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With USC serving its time under probation, it has opened the door for the Oregon Ducks to emerge as the new king of the Pac-12 Conference.
You can't really say that the Ducks exploited the opportunity and took the crown off the Trojans' head when they were down in the gutters either. Oregon actually beat USC back-to-back years in 2009 and 2010. The official changing of the guards took place when Oregon came down to the Coliseum and man-handled them 53-32 in 2010.
It was the year that Oregon went to the BCS National Championship and officially put themselves on the map nationally.
But now USC is back and they gave Oregon a little friendly reminder of this when they beat Oregon in Eugene this year 38-35, crushing the Ducks' National Championship dreams. Barkley had a career game that night—323 yards passing and four touchdowns—but he knows that it won't get any easier next year.
After the Pac-12 schedules came out on January 4, you know that both teams immediately went looking for when they would play each other because the season will inevitably come down to that one game. And if it doesn't, it'll come down to when they play each other in the 2012 Pac-12 Championship game.
Either way, the Trojans are going to have to go through the Ducks in order to get into a BCS bowl game, and the same holds true for the Ducks as well.
Is a National Championship in the Cards?
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If USC is able to beat Oregon next year, a BCS Championship will certainly be a possibility as long as they take care of business elsewhere. They will be ranked high enough in the polls at the start of the year, and beating the Ducks will greatly favor them in the computer rankings.
But who would USC possibly play in the BCS Championship? If you guessed a team from the SEC, that's pretty darn good educated guess since a school from that conference has won it all the past five years.
We're in a day and age where the National Championship contenders are the best team from the SEC and the team who stands the best chance to take down the best team from the SEC.
Heck, even this year the team who had the best chance to take down LSU—the best team in the SEC—was another team from the SEC—Alabama.
So chances are if Barkley makes it to the National Championship in 2012, he'll be facing an SEC defense, which are notorious for being stingy and impenetrable.
Barkley has yet to face a defense from the SEC. Preparing for them is something that takes weeks, even months of game planning and flawless execution during the game.
It won't be too early for Barkley to start his homework for next year because who knows, maybe he'll be the quarterback to finally dethrone a SEC team and bring back the National Championship trophy to the West Coast.
A little note taking when Alabama players LSU won't hurt a bit.