By: Elliott Duncan
Last Saturday, the University of Southern California’s football team travelled up north to take on the Stanford Cardinal, a game in which they were slightly favored to win. The Trojans were taking on the 21st ranked team in the country with high hopes of finally getting a W in the win column for quarterback Matt Barkley’s first time out against the team. Alas, it was not meant to be, and the Cardinal went on to upset the Trojans 21-14.
The Cardinal, fresh off of the departure of the number one NFL draft pick Andrew Luck, went into the contest with a strong defense and stout running game, but closed out the game with a strong showing from senior quarterback Josh Nunes. The first-year starter was abysmal in the first half, throwing two interceptions and looking quite incompetent. As we all know, football is a game of adjustments and the Stanford coaching staff put their faith in Nunes, who tossed two touchdowns and ended the game looking like a poised veteran.
Quarterback Matt Barkley, however, was rattled all night long, and did not look like half the Heisman candidate he has been hyped up to be. Although he threw for over 200 yards, Barkley didn’t complete a single touchdown and was intercepted twice. Barkley was pressured early, and by the fourth quarter the senior quarterback looked defeated. There was a slight chance of a fourth quarter comeback, but was ended when the Trojans’ offensive line broke down yet again and any passing attempt was simply laughed off.
What does this mean for the Trojans? Well for contrary to popular belief, their hopes of winning a National Championship are not demolished. As of now they are on life support, with a slim chance of making it back. The Pac-12 has looked stronger overall, however, and with ranked Oregon and UCLA still on the schedule, the Trojans can make the jump back into the National Championship spotlight. It’s definitely going to take a lot of luck and a lot of skill, but it is still possible. Remember, Alabama suffered a loss from SEC rival LSU early in the season and eventually won the National Championship in an easy rematch.
Are there going to be hurdles? Of course; if Head Coach Lane Kiffin cannot fire his team up for this Saturday’s contest against Cal, there are going to be some major problems. Not only will the National Championship dream end, but any thought of Matt Barkley winning the Heisman will as well. The biggest question facing Saturday’s matchup is how the team responds after a devastating loss. Will Matt Barkley come out slinging the ball like a Heisman Trophy winner? Will the offensive line protect him? Can the defense stop Cal’s speedy offensive attack? In a few short days we’re going to find out if the Trojans will rise up, or if they’ll tumble farther down the BCS ladder.