On this beautiful Saturday afternoon, the USC Trojans overcame a second-half surge by the Arizona Wildcats to come away with a 48-41 victory. The highlight of the win for the Trojans was the record-breaking passing performance of quarterback Matt Barkley.
A junior who’s doing everything he can to prove he’s ready for the NFL, Barkley has had an up-and-down season so far in 2011. After starting off the Trojans at 3-0, Barkley struggled last week against the Arizona State Sun Devils. He looked flustered out on the field and failed to make big plays when they were needed most. The Trojans lost their first game of the season, falling to 3-1.
That, however, wasn’t going to deter him from hitting the field against the Wildcats and performing surgery on the Arizona secondary.
When the clock finally struck zero today, Barkley had an impressive 468 passing yards under his belt and his name pinned to another USC record. He eclipsed former Trojans quarterback Carson Palmer’s record of 448 passing yards, which was set back in 2002.
No player made as a big an impact for Barkley as sophomore wide receiver Robert Woods. With a record-breaking season already underway, Woods continued to make his mark on opposing defenses against the Wildcats. He hauled in 14 passes for 255 yards and a touchdown, including an 82-yard catch-and-run that ended in six points.
Although the performance was eye-popping, it was a bit disappointing to see that Woods was only six yards from breaking a record of his own. He only needed six more yards to break R Jay Soward’s 260 receiving yards record.
Now some may attribute this record-breaking day to a horrendous Arizona defensive backfield, but a record is a record. No one’s going to put an asterisk next to those numbers because the passing defense was poor.
The Trojans are now 4-1 during a season that’s being played primarily for pride. With NCAA sanctions still in effect, USC will not be able to play in the inaugural PAC-12 conference championship game or a bowl game until next year.
This game was, however, a showcase for some of the NFL talent that saturates this USC roster. Barkley had a tremendous game, but needs to show some more consistency if he hopes to be a top talent when the 2012 NFL Draft finally rolls around. Safety T.J. McDonald and defensive end Nick Perry also had solid games.
The Trojans next game will be in Berkeley against the California Bears on Thursday, October 13. Stay tuned as USC continues to dominant opponents despite their post-season limitations.