While Trojan wide receivers like Robert Woods and freshman Marqise Lee are terrific playmakers, there is another side to each pass they catch.
The once-heralded recruit out of Santa Ana, California's Mater Dei is finally a junior, and he has taken great strides ever since he became the first non-red-shirt freshman to start the season opener for the Trojans.
While he doesn't have the greatest arm in terms of power, he has great field vision and precision. He is a smart player and knows where to put the ball so his guys can maximize their yardage.
It is because Barkley is so instrumental to the Trojan offense that stopping him is the No. 1 key to Cal beating USC.
The USC offensive line, anchored by junior left tackle Matt Kalil, has only given up four sacks through five games, a number tied for 13th in the country. Teams have had trouble getting to Barkley and that has allowed him to make great throws down the field that have been USC scores.
If Cal can get sacks on Barkley, or even just get through the line and hit him as he's making the throw, they will truly test the Trojans.
2003 was a long time ago, and USC isn't as scary an opponent as they have been in years past. If Cal forces some timely turnovers and locks down on defense, they could make a huge statement on national television this Thursday.