Last night, USC traveled to the Horseshoe to play Ohio State in one of the most hotly anticipated games of the season. Unfortunately, the game fell flat.
In postgame interviews and analysis, Matt Barkley was all but crowned as the best thing to come to USC since Pete Carroll himself. Everyone credited Barkley for commanding that game-winning drive that went 86 yards in 14 plays.
But did anyone actually watch that drive?
Yes, I’m aware Barkley made a spectacular pass to Anthony McCoy that went for 26 yards. I’m aware he gained the first down on quarterback sneaks twice in short-yardage situations.
But the real hero of this final drive was not Barkley—it was running back Joe McKnight.
With a 2nd-and-19 situation from the Trojans’ 5-yard line, McKnight produced an 11-yard rush, setting up a better 3rd-and-8 situation. McKnight then took a short pass from Barkley for a 21-yard gain, getting the Trojans out of trouble for the time being.
McKnight went on to rush for 22 more yards on that drive, giving him a combined total of 54 of USC’s final 86 yards. And McKnight also found his way into the end zone for the two-point conversion.
And Barkley gets all the credit? Please.
Look at the stats. Barkley went 15 for 31, a completion percentage of less than 50, less than 200 yards passing, and an interception. He also rushed seven times for eight yards.
He really only had an average game. And because he’s the quarterback, he takes home the glory.
Aside from that final drive, it was an uninteresting game. The defenses dominated, Barkley went three-and-out more times than I’ve seen from a USC quarterback in a long time, and neither team looked like they wanted to win.
I knew Ohio State was overrated last week when Navy had the chance of tying them on a two-point conversion in the final two minutes of the game. But after seeing USC struggle to produce anything last night, I honestly don’t see the Trojans winning the Pac-10 this year.
Three out of the next four games for USC are on the road, and two are against Top 25 opponents—hated rivals Notre Dame (who is already starting to look overrated themselves after an embarrassing loss to Michigan yesterday) and California.
If the Golden Bears can keep putting up 50+ points per game, the Trojans will not leave Berkeley with their perfect record intact.