After USC's 18-15 win over Ohio State in Columbus last year, the Associated Press headline ran as follows: "Barkley engineers winning TD drive as USC scrapes past Ohio State."
The USC bookstore took the post-game celebration a step further, printing t-shirts commemorating the win, which read: "A freshman quarterback led the team eighty-six yards in fourteen plays after being at our own five yard line on second and nineteen, taking six minutes and ten seconds to silence the record-breaking crowd of one hundred six thousand thirty-three in Columbus, Ohio by scoring a touchdown plus two, making the score eighteen to fifteen on September twelfth, two thousand nine."
By most accounts, Barkley's performance in just his second game as a collegiate athlete would classify as a breakthrough, and even more precisely, it could be called a "signature win" as well.
But according to the Los Angeles Daily News' USC beat writer, Scott Wolf, Barkley's performance against the Buckeyes "does not count." And yes, as far as I know, Wolf was given press credentials to cover that game.
In my story for today's paper, I mentioned that quarterback Matt Barkley lacks a signature victory in his career. Some of you mentioned the Ohio State game last season. I did not count it because the defense set up one touchdown and on the game-winning drive Joe McKnight did a lot of the work (and Stafon Johnson scored the winning TD).
Maybe Washington was a chance but Lane Kiffin repeatedly mentioned the third-down incompletion that forced Joe Houston's missed field goal and then there was the incompletion to an open David Ausberry in the end zone.
Stanford? That was a good case with the last-minute touchdown to put USC ahead. But USC lost that game so it cannot count. I'd add that on a key drive in the fourth quarter there were two bad incompletions to Ronald Johnson (each was at fault on different plays) and it looked like USC was sunk until the Trojans forced a fumble.
More after the jump
I like to think that I am above Scott Wolf bashing, but these comments certainly raised a few eyebrows - at least in my humble opinion. Did Barkley play well in a primetime matchup against No. 1 Oregon last Saturday? Not particularly. After all, the sophomore signal caller finished with 2 interceptions compared to just 1 touchdown.
But instead or examining Barkley's performance against UO, Wolf, instead, uses this as an opportunity to analyze Barkley's entire career at USC. And in doing so, he fails miserably.
Insisting that Barkley lacks a "signature win" is purely attention seeking, and a way to irritate Trojan fans (i.e. readers). There is little to no basis in fact in such an assertion.
While Barkley failed to throw a touchdown pass against Ohio State, his involvement in that final drive is undeniable. In going 3-of-5 for 55 yards, Barkley converted a 3rd-and-8 from USC's own 16-yard line on a 21-yard completion to RB Joe McKnight. The next play, he completed a 26-yard pass to TE Anthony McCoy to move the Trojans within fourteen yards of Buckeye territory.
And furthermore, he made crucial plays with his feet as well.
On a 4th-and-1 at the Ohio State 28-yard line, Barkley dove for a 1-yard gain to complete the first down in order to keep the drive alive. Minutes later the drive ended on a Stafon Johnson touchdown followed by a successful two-point conversion attempt, where Barkley found Joe McKnight in the endzone.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Barkley played a significant role in that last drive against Ohio State, a top ten ranked team on the road in one of the toughest environments in all of college football. That is more than obvious.
Nothing more needs to be said.