Matt Barkley becomes a hero overnight as USC Trojans beat Ohio State Buckeyes 18-15
All week, there has been one question that almost every sports media outlet has been asking in some variation.
“If the game comes down to the wire and USC is down, can a true freshman in Matt Barkley lead this team down the field for a game winning drive in such a hostile environment?”
The answer is an emphatic yes.
I wasn’t expecting this one to come down to the last drive. My hat goes off to Ohio State for a fantastic performance on defense through the first three and a half quarters.
But three and a half quarters just isn’t enough, and a star was born in Matt Barkley tonight. Ask any Trojan fan about their favorite Matt Leinart moment, and a whole lot of them will fondly reminisce on the amazing late comeback drive on Notre Dame with the infamous “Bush Push”.
Just two games into his USC career, Matt Barkley already has his incredible comeback drive.
The final stat line won’t blow you away; 15/31, 195 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT.
But let’s take a quick glance at the two drives to end the half. With 55 seconds left in the first half, USC took over at their own 20 yard line. (Credit to ESPN.com for the drive summaries)
1st and 10 at USC 20: Stafon Johnson rush for 29 yards to the USC 49 for a 1st down.
1st and 10 at USC 49: Matt Barkley rush for 6 yards to the OSU 45.
2nd and 4 at OSU 45: Matt Barkley pass complete to Stanley Havili for 5 yards to the OSU 40 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at OSU 40: Matt Barkley pass complete to Damian Williams for 18 yards to the OSU 22 for a 1st down.
1st and 10 at OSU 22: Timeout OHIO ST, clock 00:17.
1st and 10 at OSU 22: Matt Barkley pass complete to Anthony McCoy for 19 yards to the OSU 3 for a 1st down.
1st and Goal at OSU 3: Matt Barkley pass incomplete.
2nd and Goal at OSU 3: Matt Barkley pass incomplete to David Ausberry.
3rd and Goal at OSU 3: Jordan Congdon 21 yard field goal GOOD.
After Stafon Johnson got the team to the 49 yard line, Pete Carroll decided to give his true freshman quarterback a chance. With time ticking down and no timeouts left, Barkley made four straight excellent plays to set up the game tying field goal.
I was impressed with the way he bounced back to put this drive together after the interception he threw earlier in the quarter. Little did I know, the best was yet to come.
The offense was non-existent in the second half. The running game couldn’t get going and the passing game was out of sync. It really felt like all hope was lost for the Trojans, and a record-setting Ohio State crowd of over 106,000 fans were all on their feet bringing the place down with cheers.
Matt Barkley has been consistent all week. He said he was ready for this game, ready for the crowd noise, and ready to just go out and win. And with 7:29 left on the clock, Matt Barkley and the Trojan offense took over on their own 14 yard line.
1st and 10 at USC 14: Matt Barkley sacked by Devon Torrence for a loss of 4 yards to the USC 10.
2nd and 14 at USC 10: USC penalty 5 yard delay of game accepted.
The game should have been over right here. Devon Torrence’s sack took the decibel level up even higher. It resulted in a delay of game penalty, and it’s a good thing that the foundation of the Horse Shoe is so strong, because the eruption after that penalty could have taken the entire place down. Keep in mind, too, that a field goal would do the Trojans no good here. They needed to go 95 yards for a touchdown.
And then it began.
2nd and 19 at USC 5: Joe McKnight rush for 11 yards to the USC 16.
3rd and 8 at USC 16: Matt Barkley pass complete to Joe McKnight for 21 yards to the USC 37 for a 1st down.
1st and 10 at USC 37: Matt Barkley pass complete to Anthony McCoy for 26 yards to the OSU 37 for a 1st down.
1st and 10 at OSU 37: Matt Barkley pass incomplete.
2nd and 10 at OSU 37: Joe McKnight rush for 1 yard to the OSU 36.
3rd and 9 at OSU 36: Matt Barkley pass complete to Damian Williams for 8 yards to the OSU 28.
4th and 1 at OSU 28: Matt Barkley rush for 1 yard to the OSU 27 for a 1st down.
1st and 10 at OSU 27: Joe McKnight rush for 4 yards to the OSU 23.
2nd and 6 at OSU 23: Joe McKnight rush for 9 yards to the OSU 14 for a 1st down.
1st and 10 at OSU 14: Matt Barkley pass incomplete to Damian Williams.
2nd and 10 at OSU 14: Joe McKnight rush for 8 yards to the OSU 6.
3rd and 2 at OSU 6: Timeout OHIO ST, clock 01:14.
3rd and 2 at OSU 6: Matt Barkley rush for 4 yards to the OSU 2 for a 1st down.
1st and Goal at OSU 2: Timeout OHIO ST, clock 01:11.
1st and Goal at OSU 2: Stafon Johnson rush for 2 yards for a TOUCHDOWN.
Two-point conversion attempt, Matt Barkley pass to Joe McKnight GOOD.
3/5, 55 yards through the air and two QB sneaks both for first downs, including one on fourth down. The two point conversion for the field goal lead was huge, too.
People criticized Pete Carroll’s decision to go with a true freshman. People criticized Matt Barkley as a prospect, saying he threw too many interceptions and would take a while to develop. Pete Carroll told us that Barkley’s poise and skill was unlike anything he’s ever seen in a true freshman. Matt Barkley told us that he wouldn’t be phased by the hostile environment, and he’d get the job done this Saturday.
Pete Carroll/Matt Barkley 1 – Media 0.
Of course there will be hundreds of stories just like this one singing Matt Barkley’s praises, especially in the star-studded city of Los Angeles. Fans that look past the headlines know that this wasn’t a one man show. Joe McKnight made that final drive possible with some amazingly explosive plays. Stafon Johnson scored both of the Trojans touchdowns tonight and kick-started the drive that led to the field goal. The offensive line stepped up when it needed too, especially on fourth downs. And the defense held a potent Ohio State offense led by one of the most explosive quarterbacks in college to only 13 points, often times needing to make a stand when the Buckeyes had great field position.
But you know what they say. When the team wins, the star quarterback gets too much credit, and when the team loses, the quarterback takes too much blame.
Tonight, Matt Barkley deserves “too much” credit. And I get the feeling his supporting cast doesn’t mind one bit.