Are we nearing the end of the Barkley era at USC?

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 12: Quarterback Matt Barkely #7 of the USC Trojans throws a pass against the Washington Huskies at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. USC won 40-17. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

I don't want to make a big deal out of this but the questions will come at a furious pace once the season is in over in two weeks.

There have been a couple of articles out there over the past few weeks that have started to go down that path.

There is no question that Matt Barkley has made great strides in his 3 years at USC. Barkley's first two season showed where he would hit a wall...where his progress almost looked like he was regressing.

This season seems different.

Barkley has had some great performances this season...last weeks record setting six TD game is one possible high point. But Barkley has also had some OK performances.

Barkley has said that a bowl game is not a deal breaker in his staying or going.

But with what we are seeing this season the answer could be right in front of us...with Barkley not being in the Heisman hunt and with USC out of post season play, Barkley finishing the season with record or near record numbers may be all the answers he needs.

At his current pace, Barkley would finish this season with 37 touchdown passes, one shy of Leinart's school record set in 2003. Barkley doesn't have the benefit of a 13th game as Leinart did.

Barkley also is completing 67 percent of his passes, a higher mark than Palmer, Leinart, John David Booty or Mark Sanchez ever achieved. Rob Johnson holds the school record of 68.6, set in 1993.

Numbers may be the benchmark but I think Barkley wants to see how he performs over all. If he throws 5-6 picks over the next two games he might have second thoughts, but if he lights it up I see him as good as gone. The question becomes what if he is right in the middle?

A stinker of a game against Oregon followed by blowing out UCLA doesn't give us a lot of information.

I think Barkley needs two solid, productive performances regardless of outcome to have him racing for the door.

Anything else and the picture gets murky.

Lots of questions still to be answered...

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