Can USC Beat Notre Dame Without Quarterback Matt Barkley?

By Curt Popejoy
Everett Golson
Matt Cashore-US Presswire

In a season that has gone from the top of the college football universe to the literal bottom, USC should not be shocked that going into their final game of a failed season their starting quarterback Matt Barkley is going to be on the sideline as he suffered a separated shoulder in last week’s loss and will be out this weekend. Instead the Trojans will lean on freshman signal caller Max Wittek to try and end the season on the ultimate of high notes: knocking Notre Dame out of the BCS championship.But the question is, can they do it?

On the surface it would appear the easy answer is no. The Trojans have a tremendous amount of talent at the skill positions, but Barkley is a perfect fit in that offense and even when the team struggles they are able to use that dink and dunk timing passing game to get yards and points. Having said that, mark me down as a skeptic about just how good Notre Dame is, especially that defense. In their games this season they have played exactly 1 team who had an offense that ranked in the Top 50.

I’m not willing to go so far as to call them frauds as some have; there is something to be said for feasting on average offenses.  And the Notre Dame offense has been less than spectacular although quarterback Everett Golson is improving. Still the Fighting Irish don’t pass the eyeball test for me for best team in the country.

As I have said many times before, having the best record doesn’t mean you are the best team. Can USC beat them? If Barkley were healthy I’d say yes for sure. They have some dynamic wide outs and a 2 headed monster at running back and I don’t see any reason the Trojans wouldn’t be able to move the football down the field on the Fighting Irish, assuming the offensive line holds up. But the Trojans have learned to deal with an average offensive line with the quick passing game. It’s going to come down to the defenses and who can minimize the big plays.

The Trojans are going to have a huge test ahead of them with a backup quarterback in the biggest game of the year, but with a week of practice and those skills players anything is possible. But it may just be a case of divine intervention for the Fighting Irish this eason. One little bit of history: According to @heismanpundit the last time Notre Dame went into the coliseum undefeated with a shot at a national championship was 1980, and they lost to a USC team led by a backup quarterback named Scott Tinsley. Something to think about.

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