Apparently Matt Barkley has never heard of bulletin board material.
Despite sporting a 3.77 high school GPA, the true freshman quarterback might have just made the biggest mental mistake of his career—and it didn’t come anywhere near a football field.
Earlier this week, Barkley was asked if he was nervous at all about playing at Autzen Stadium.
“It doesn’t matter to me. I’ve never been there. I heard it’s crazy, but I say this every road game: It won’t matter.”
If that weren’t enough, he added, “I feed off the energy. I feed off that noise. I love it.”
Well, Matt, you’ll get your chance on Saturday to prove how hungry you really are. You just gave 60,000 of the most insanely hardcore, passionate football fanatics in the country a single united goal: Put you through living hell for three-and-a-half hours. Not a great plan.
It’s a night game. It’s Halloween. It’s our most important game of the decade. College GameDay is here. Most importantly, it’s at Autzen. Do you really want to give the fans another reason to make you piss your pants because of anxiety?
Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News put it best: “[Autzen] is non-stop, eardrum-rattling, jet-engine level, false-start causing noise.”
I can’t wait until you burn USC’s first timeout in the first quarter because you aren’t used to communicating with hand motions. But don’t worry, you aren’t the only one. Several more experienced and better quarterbacks have tried and failed to conquer Autzen.
In 2007, Mark Sanchez pointed to playing at Notre Dame as a reason for why he wasn’t afraid of Autzen. How did that one turn out? With the “Sanchize” throwing two interceptions and a 24-17 loss. Score one for the good guys.
Jahvid Best said publicly that the only stadium in the entire country that rattles him is Autzen: “The crowd noise is crazy up there. Honestly, any other away game I don't really even hear the crowd. Oregon was the only place where it really got on my nerves."
Need more examples, Matt? I’ve got plenty.
Then-Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said in 2003 that Autzen was the loudest stadium he’d ever been in.
Matt, you survived the Horseshoe—all 105,000 fans. Congratulations. But just like with the play on the field, the fans in the Big Ten don’t come even remotely close to those in Eugene.
A columnist for The Michigan Daily wrote in 2003, “Autzen's 59,000 strong make the Big House collectively sound like a pathetic whimper. It’s louder than any place I’ve ever been, and that includes The Swamp at Florida, The Shoe in Columbus, and Death Valley at Louisiana State. Autzen Stadium is where great teams go to die.”
How about one more for good measure?
Adrian Peterson, the most dominant running back in the NFL today, admitted that the noise in the Autzen zoo caused him actual physical pain. “It was like some sort of crazy torture in the movies,” Peterson said. “How do people do that so long without taking a breath? I think my ears are still ringing.”
You get the idea.
Matt, I hope you know what you got yourself in to. You can act tough now and put up a false confidence so you look like a golden boy for the media, but when you take that first step onto the field and look up at 60,000 snarling, ravenous black and yellow Oregon Duck fanatics, no one on earth will be able to comfort you.
Not Pete Carroll, not Joe McKnight. Not even your mother. It all comes down to you, a 19-year-old true freshman quarterback, against the most rattling, unnerving, and frightening fans you have ever seen and will ever see.
Welcome to Autzen. Just hope you get out alive.
Prediction: Oregon 34, USC 28
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