Matt Barkley: Why Nothing Stands Between USC Quarterback and the Heisman Now

Randy ChambersAnalyst IJanuary 11, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 26:  Quarterback Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans gets ready for the game with the UCLA Bruins at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 26, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin did the unthinkable last season by winning 10 games with the Baylor Bears and winning the Heisman. He has now said he's done enough at Baylor and is taking his talents to the NFL draft.

"It was a tough decision, I love the people at this university, love my coach for giving me a chance to be a quarterback," Griffin said.

This move was expected, as Griffin's stock was likely as high as it was going to get. He's rated the No. 2 quarterback in this year's draft and is expected to be a top-10 pick. There really is no reason for him to return for his senior season. The risk was much greater than the reward.

But this move now affects a quarterback who did decide to return for his senior year. USC quarterback Matt Barkley was also projected to be a top quarterback in next year's draft but wanted to return for a chance at a national championship and a Heisman Trophy

He has the perfect opportunity to do both. Barkley is coming off his best season yet, completing 69 percent of his passes, which is seven percent higher than his sophomore year. He also cut his interception total in half and threw for an amazing 39 touchdowns. He proved this year that he's more than capable of winning the award.

Also returning is running back Curtis McNeal, who rushed for over 1,000 yards last season and was probably the most underrated back in the Pac-12. Then you have eight players who caught at least 10 passes last season. Out of those eight players, five are returning, including star wide receiver Robert Woods, who had over 100 receptions last year.

All of those players are just going to make Barkley's job that much easier. In fact, USC has the offensive weapons in place to break all kinds of conference and NCAA records. The potential is that great for this team.

With Andrew Luck and LaMichael James leaving their respective teams as well, things really begin to open up for this team. The Trojans are the overwhelming favorite to win the Pac-12 and possibly even run the table for a BCS National Championship Game berth.

If all of those things happen and Barkley has another great statistical season, he will likely become the favorite to win the Heisman as well. All because the guy that wears Superman socks is no longer there to compete against him.

Randy Chambers is a B/R Featured Columnist that covers college football and the NFL. You can contact him @Randy_Chambers or