USC vs. Stanford: Breaking Down Matt Barkley's Cardinal Nightmares

Luke PashkeCorrespondent ISeptember 16, 2012

PALO ALTO, CA - SEPTEMBER 15: Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans tries to get a pass away after being hit during their final quarter of their game against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

There isn't much that fazes Matt Barkley. The guy has a great football I.Q., he's smooth in the pocket and a great leader. But for some reason, he never could beat Stanford.

Before his arrival at USC, the Trojans rarely had problems with the Cardinals in recent years. But with the emergence of Andrew Luck, Stanford became a serious contender in the Pac-12.

As good as Barkley has been at USC, the QB never beat Stanford. That's a pretty crazy reality. It certainly makes you think of Peyton Manning and his struggles at Tennessee with the Florida Gators. 

In his four games against Stanford, Barkley threw 10 touchdowns to just six interceptions. With the exception of his freshman and senior years, the USC signal-caller played exceptionally well against the Cardinals. So it's hard to blame him for this drought.

In fact, if you combine his stats against Stanford from his sophomore and junior years, Barkley threw for an impressive nine touchdowns and just one interception. Last season, he threw for six touchdowns but still fell to the Luck-laden Cardinals in triple OT.

So why couldn't Barkley ever get off the snide and defeat the Cardinals?

For starters, he had to go to USC at the same time Andrew Luck went to Stanford. Even when Barkley had killer games, Luck would outduel him.

Plus, he put up those impressive numbers in his sophomore and junior years, his defense couldn't stop a nosebleed and gave up an incredibly high number of points.

In all four of Barkley's games against Stanford, the Trojans' defense gave up 69 points. That's just in four games! It's hard to place a lot of blame on a QB who puts up a ton of points but just doesn't get a lot of help from his defense.

That being said, the defense was not the problem Saturday night. The Trojans held Stanford to 21 points. That loss falls squarely on Barkley's shoulders.

The Heisman candidate had a dismal game, throwing two interceptions and failing to throw a touchdown pass. He never looked comfortable in the pocket, mainly because his starting center was out with an injury and the offensive line had trouble keeping the Cardinals from getting to him.

If Barkley wanted to win the Heisman, he had to pull that game out on the road.

The harsh reality for USC fans and Barkley is that despite being one of the most successful QBs in USC history, he never defeated Stanford. Not even once.

Some of his shortcomings against the Cardinals weren't all on him, but he had his chances and blew it, which may have cost him a chance at the Heisman and a national championship.