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Matt Barkley’s USC began much like Carson Palmer’s in that he endured a coaching change early in his career at Troy.
He then more or less breezed through his sophomore and junior seasons when USC was not eligible for the post season free of injury and on pace to be the greatest Trojan QB ever. (Cited by more sites than worth mentioning here. It is hyperbole and well-founded at that.)
Barkley blazed into 2012 with the motto “Unfinished Business” and was largely regarded as the Golden Boy. He would lead USC back to the national championship, he would bring another (untarnished) Heisman to Heritage Hall.
Barkley started the season well with a win at home vs. Hawaii where he went 23-of-38 for 371 yards, four TDs, no INTS for a 60.5 percent completion average.
At Syracuse, Barkley was 23-of-30 in crazy weather conditions for 187 yards, six TDs, 1 INT and a 76.7 percent completion average. It is crazy that Barkley had only 187 yards but six touchdowns.
His downslide as far as the media is concerned began at Stanford, where Barkley struggled, going 20-of 41 for 254 yards, no TDs, two INTs and a 48.8 percent completion average.
Against Cal, Barkley was 22-of-34 for 192 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs and a 64.7 percent completion average.
Then, USC made their first trip to Salt Lake City since 1917 and the Golden Boy returned, going 23-of-30 for 303 yards, three TDs, no INTs and a 76.7 percent completion average.
Barkley’s 194.5 passer rating mirrors his return to the national conversation about potential Heisman winners. At Utah, Barkley looked confident, had enough protection in the pocket to make plays, handled the rush from the Utah front four and did not lose focus when the Trojans fell behind in the first two minutes of the first quarter.
Much like Carson Palmer in his senior season, Matt Barkley has found his stride after five games and is poised to take the next seven by storm, setting up his re-emergence as a Heisman front-runner and yet another in the illustrious line of Trojan quarterbacks.
Barkley also has a great backstory, and the Heisman voters like backstories. He came back for his senior season, turning down the NFL and its millions of dollars.
He has traveled to South Africa, Nigeria and Mexico on humanitarian relief trips but was devastated by the destruction the earthquake in Haiti caused. Barkley and 15 other Trojan football players went to Haiti last summer to build four houses, move relief supplies and lift the spirits of Haitians sill recovering from the 2010 earthquake.