USC Football: Quarterback Matt Barkley Is Back in the Heisman Conversation

Lisa Horne@LisaHornePac-12 and Big 12 Lead WriterOctober 22, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20:  Quarterback Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans holds the sword  and conducts the band after the game against the Colorado Buffaloes at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 20,2012  in Los Angeles, California.  USC won 50-6.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

USC quarterback Matt Barkley had a tremendous performance against Colorado last Saturday that puts him right back in the Heisman conversation.

Yes, it was against the 1-6 Colorado Buffaloes, but there is a reason why that game put Barkley back in the Heisman race. Actually two reasons.

First, Barkley put on an aerial show that was record-setting. He broke the school and conference record for touchdown passes set by Matt Leinart in 2005, making him the new  Pac-12 career passing touchdown leader. Barkley also broke former UCLA quarterback Rick Neuheisel's completion percentage record in a game that had at least 20 passes—the Trojan quarterback went 19-of-20 for 298 yards and six touchdowns.

Second, and most importantly, Barkley looked like he was in the same form as he was in toward the end of last season. The Trojans had looked mediocre up until their game against Colorado and tended to play down to the level of their competition.

The Trojans didn't have that problem this time around. Barkley threw with laser-like accuracy and would have completed all 20 of his passes if it hadn't been for a drop. He looked like the Matt Barkley who destroyed most of the opposing defenses he faced in his last six games of 2011.  

Last year, Barkley started a string of incredible performances, one of which started on October 22 at South Bend, Indiana against Notre Dame. Barkley went 24-of-35 for 224 yards and three touchdowns in the Trojans' 31-17 win. 

Following the Notre Dame victory—against Oregon and UCLA—Barkley completed 76.5 and 83.3 percent of his passes, respectively, and the Trojans finished the season with a 10-2 record. 


If Barkley can keep up this pace and have two outstanding performances against Notre Dame and Oregon, then he will have had not one, but two Heisman performances behind his already record-setting day.

Will it be enough to catch Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein and West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith?

Maybe not, but Barkley did return to USC for his final year to have that shot at a BCS bowl berth and/or a BCS Championship.

Heisman loves good stories and Barkley has a great story.

If Barkley and Co. run the tables, this could be one of the closest Heisman races ever.