Barkley officially ruled out of bowl game; USC career over

15 Comments

In early December, Lane Kiffin expressed confidence that Matt Barkley would be recovered enough from a shoulder injury to play in USC’s bowl game.  Less than a week ago, it looked doubtful the senior would take the field for what would be the final game of his collegiate career.

With the Trojans’ Sun Bowl matchup with Georgia Tech just four days away, the will he/won’t he question has finally and officially been answered.

In an announcement that seemed to be a foregone conclusion for at least a week, Kiffin confirmed Thursday that Barkley will not play in USC’s first postseason game since the quarterback’s freshman season.  Barkley suffered the shoulder injury in the UCLA loss and missed the regular-season finale against Notre Dame because of it.

Kiffin said Barkley wanted to play, but doctors would not medically clear him to do so. “I’ll be here with my team to finish strong. Proud to be a Trojan!” Barkley wrote in a tweet posted to his Twitter account.

As was the case in the game against the Irish, Max Wittek will get the start at quarterback for the Trojans, Kiffin confirmed.

And, just like that, one of the most star-crossed careers a high-profile player at the FBS level has endured in many a year has come to an end.

Barkley was a highly-touted five-star member of USC’s 2009 recruiting class, rated as the No. 1 quarterback and the No. 5 player at any position in the country.  After enrolling early in January of 2009, the Newport Beach, Calif., native won the starting job coming out of that first spring practice and went on to start 47 of the 50 games the Trojans played during his four-year career, with the only three games he missed due to an injury his freshman, sophomore and senior seasons.  The Trojans were 34-13 in games in which Barkley started, 0-3 in games he didn’t.

As expected from a player who both started nearly four dozen games and played in a pass-happy offense, Barkley set a slew of school and conference records during his statistically prolific career.  He currently owns 20 USC career, season and game records, 10 of which are Pac-12 marks, including career total offense (12,214), passing yards (12,327), completions (1,011), passing touchdowns (116) and rushing/passing touchdowns (122).  The school records owned by Barkley include most career 400-yard passing games (4); most career 300-yard passing games (15); most yards passing, game (493); and most touchdown passes, game (six, twice).

Despite all of the shiny numbers, Barkley’s career was marked by a series of disappointments, none more so than the NCAA sanctions that throttled the football program.  Thanks to the punitive measures levied by The Association over the Reggie Bush impermissible benefits scandal, USC was banned from participating in the postseason — including the inaugural Pac-12 championship game last year as well as bowl games — in 2010 and 2011.  So, thanks to those sanctions plus this injury, Barkley’s career will end with just one bowl appearance — the 2009 Emerald Bowl, a 24-13 win over Boston College.

Another oddity when it comes to a player of Barkley’s status and as the holder of a handful of conference records?  He never once was named to the first-team All-Pac-12 squads in any of his four seasons, and just once (2011) did he earn second-team all-conference honors.  In 2010 and then again this season, he was named honorable mention.

The biggest disappointment, though, might’ve been this season.  Entering 2012 ranked as the No. 1 team in the country by the Associated Press, and No. 3 according to the coaches, the Trojans lost four of their last five games to finish a disappointing regular season at 7-5.

Barkley also entered 2012 as the prohibitive Heisman front-runner before giving way to the likes of Geno Smith, Collin Klein and eventual winner Johnny Manziel.  Instead of Barkley, it was teammate and wide receiver Marqise Lee receiving the Heisman push from USC at season’s end, with the true sophomore finishing fourth in the balloting and just missing a trip to New York City as one of the Heisman finalists.

Losses and turnovers were the story of Barkley’s final season at the Los Angeles school, with the former number of five matching 2010 for the most in Barkley’s tenure. After throwing just seven interceptions in 446 attempts last season, Barkley set a career-high with 15 in 387 attempts this year.

The subpar 2012 season both personally and team-wise came nearly a year after Barkley eschewed what would’ve been a surefire shot at being top-10 selection in the April NFL draft for another year with the Trojans.  That decision could prove to be costly for Barkley as, even given the utter dearth of top-shelf talent at his position, he’s considered at the moment by many a draft observer to be a late first-round pick.

Kansas State knocks No. 13 Oklahoma State out of Big 12 title race

Associated Press
1 Comment

No. 13 Oklahoma State’s Big 12 championship hopes were already put on life support Saturday, thanks to No. 12 TCU’s 27-3 win at Texas Tech, coupled with the knowledge the Frogs close the regular season at home against Baylor on Friday, and No. 4 Oklahoma’s oncoming win at Kansas. But the Cowboys went ahead and eliminated themselves by falling in a 42-13 hole for which they could not climb out, dropping a 45-40 game to Kansas State in Stillwater.

Kansas State opened the game by moving 71 yards in 10 plays — every one of them runs, most of them by second-time starting quarterback Skylar Thompson, who traversed the final 40 yards himself, including a 5-yard score.

After a pair of punts, Oklahoma State tied the game on a 2-play, 70-yard drive: a 32-yard run by Justice Hill and a 38-yard strike from Mason Rudolph to James Washington (eight catches for 159 yards). 

Matt Ammendola gave Oklahoma State the lead with a 32-yard field goal, but Thompson shoved Kansas State right back in front with a 47-yard play-action bomb to Byron Pringle, putting Kansas State up 14-10 with 13:32 left in the first half. Oklahoma State threatened to re-claim the lead, but the Cowboys could not convert a 1st-and-goal at the K-State 7-yard line, forcing a 27-yard Ammendola field goal.

Kansas State immediately capitalized on the opportunity to seize control of the game when Pringle struck again, this time taking the ensuing kickoff 89 yards back for a touchdown.

A bad sequence for Oklahoma State became even worse when Rudolph’s deep pass to Washington was overthrown and intercepted by Duke Shelley at the K-State 18. The Cowboys defense forced a three-and-out, but the next Oklahoma State drive ended in another Rudolph overthrow and another interception, which Kendall Adams grabbed at the K-State 19 and returned 19 yards to the 38.

Kansas State capitalized on the mistake, moving 62 yards in five plays, the last 39 on an Alex Barnes run down the right sideline to put the Wildcats up 28-13 with 1:30 left in the first half.

The downpour continued to open the second half. Thompson hit Pringle on another bomb, this time 46 yards, on the Wildcats’ first touch of the second half, and that connection hooked up again to push the lead to 42-13 midway through the third quarter — this time from 60 yards out. Pringle finished the day with four catches for a career-best 166 yards and three touchdowns.

Pringle’s third touchdown marked the third straight game and the fourth overall Oklahoma State has allowed 42 points or more.

Oklahoma State forced its way back into the game through a 21-3 run, scoring on a 2-yard run by Hill, an 8-yard pass from Rudolph (32-of-53 for 425 yards with four total touchdowns and two interceptions) to Washington and a 2-yard Rudolph keeper with 4:55 to play.

Oklahoma State attempted an onside kick after the final touchdown, but it was recovered by — who else? — Pringle.

After using its second timeout, Oklahoma State’s defense hit a trifecta: it managed to sack Thompson, force a fumble in which it recovered, and knock Thompson out of the game with what appeared to be a right leg injury. He finished the game hitting 10-of-13 passes for 204 yards with three touchdowns while rushing 17 times for a game-high 93 yards and a touchdown. Barnes added 85 yards on 21 carries, and as a team Kansa State out-rushed Oklahoma State 219-85.

The Cowboys zipped down the field to register Rudolph’s fourth touchdown of the game, a 14-yard bullet to Dillon Stoner to pull the Pokes within 45-40 with 4:02 remaining. Rudolph’s 2-point pass was intercepted.

Needing a first down to win the game, Kansas State ran three straight direct snaps to Barnes, who managed only two yards. Oklahoma State got the ball back at its own 46 with 2:12 remaining, knowing a touchdown would win the game. Instead, they could not gain a yard. Rudolph fired incomplete on four consecutive passes, thereby dooming the Cowboys’ comeback efforts and sending Kansas State (6-5, 4-4 Big 12) into their first bowl game since 2015.

Oklahoma State (8-3, 5-3 Big 12) will finish its season and Rudolph’s record-breaking career against Kansas next Saturday in Stillwater, knowing the Pokes are playing solely to hold on to their top-25 ranking and bowl positioning, but not much more.

Ohio State win, Michigan loss hands Buckeyes B1G East, date with Wisconsin in league title game

Associated Press
Leave a comment

It may not have been as easy as most expected, but Ohio State’s exactly where most pundits thought they’d be heading into the postseason, at least conference-wise.

OSU came into today’s Week 12 action needed to take care of business against Illinois and have Michigan lose to Wisconsin in order to claim the Big East title this weekend.  Both came to fruition Saturday as the Badgers handled the Wolverines 24-10 while the Buckeyes throttled the Fighting Illini 52-14 in a game that wasn’t even as close as the final square may have indicated.

Following next weekend’s rivalry matchup with UM, OSU will move on to face No. 5 Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game.  If the Buckeyes can somehow manage wins in each of those two games, they could have an outside chance to become the first two-loss team to qualify for the College Football Playoff, although they would still need some help.  Unbeaten UW, meanwhile, would, provided it gets past Minnesota, likely earn a playoff berth with a conference championship.

OSU will be making its third title game appearance since the inaugural one was played in 2011, while UW will be playing in its sixth.  The two teams met in the 2014 edition of the game, with the Buckeyes’ 59-0 throttling of the Buckeyes providing the impetus for them to qualify for the first-ever playoff and, ultimately, win the national championship.

J.T. Barrett led the way to this latest title-game appearance for the Buckeyes, accounting for three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) in the win.  The seventh-year senior quarterback also became the first player in Big Ten history to throw for 100 career touchdowns.

On the ground, Mike Weber chipped in with 108 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

On to Atlanta: No. 7 Georgia responds to first loss by running right over Kentucky in SEC rout

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It’s been six days of hearing how they got run over. Six days of hearing how they couldn’t throw the ball. Six days of wondering how their offensive line would bounce back from embarrassment. Seven days after suffering their first loss of the season in humiliating fashion though, No. 7 Georgia bounced back by running right over SEC East rival Kentucky in a 42-13 rout that had the team looking a lot more like the one who was the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff just two weeks ago.

The Bulldogs’ victory was naturally fueled by their ground game, which was bottled up last week at Auburn but returned with a vengeance behind the two senior running backs who said their farewells to the hedges at Sanford Stadium with even more eye-popping numbers for the red and black. Nick Chubb led the way on a day where he also topped the 1,000 yard mark for the season, finishing with 151 yards and two scores — the last of which was a 55-yarder down the sidelines that delighted the crowd and will probably be replayed a few times at next spring’s NFL Draft. His teammate in the backfield, Sony Michel, wasn’t too shabby either with 87 yards and a trio of trips to the end zone as well.

Quarterback Jake Fromm managed to have an efficient outing in the passing game after shaking off an interception on the opening drive of the game. The freshman wound up with 123 yards in the air and threw a beautiful touchdown right into the waiting arms of Javon Wims in the first half. With both phases firing on all cylinders, especially from the second quarter on, Georgia rolled up over 500 yards of offense as afternoon turned into evening in Athens.

The Wildcats looked threatening early after grabbing that initial turnover and were generally hanging around until just before halftime. QB Stephen Johnson likely will spend most of the post-game in the ice tub after numerous hits from that ferocious front seven of the home team, luckily managing only to get sacked three times and throwing for 138 yards. Things were equally difficult for tailback Benny Snell, who was impressive in clawing his way to 94 yards and Kentucky’s only touchdown.

It wasn’t enough in the end however, as Georgia went a perfect 6-0 against the East division and wrapped up regular season play in the SEC with the victory. They’ll head to Atlanta the next weeks as they’ll take on in-state rival Georgia Tech next Saturday before heading to Mercedes-Benz Stadium to meet the winner of the Iron Bowl with a conference title and College Football Playoff spot on the line.

Coaches talk plenty about putting last week behind them and moving forward and it’s safe to say that’s the case for Kirby Smart’s team after another easy romp in conference play.

Wimbush scores 3 TDs as No. 8 Notre Dame holds off Navy

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
1 Comment

A week after getting embarrassed on the big stage by Miami, No. 8 Notre Dame (9-2) responded by holding off an upset bid from rival Navy (6-4). Notre Dame had to gut this one out, as we have come to expect from these two teams over the years. An incomplete pass on fourth down by Navy turned the ball over to the Irish in the final minutes and Notre Dame escaped with the win.

The play was a running back pass, and Navy appeared to have the play they were hoping for. But the pass intended for Tyler Carmona from Darryl Bonner was probably a split second late and just off the mark as it fell to the ground with the game on the line.

Navy took a 17-10 lead on the Irish in the third quarter after working a nearly eight-minute drive while running 15 plays to travel 72 yards. The drive ended with a touchdown pass from Zach Abey to Craig Scott from 12 yards out on third-and-goal. The lead did not last for very long, however, as Notre Dame answered with a much quicker offensive series. Brandon Wimbush completed a 30-yard touchdown to Kevin Stepherson to tie the game just five plays later.

The Wimbush-to-Stepherson struck again for the go-ahead touchdown on their next offensive series, after Navy missed a field goal.

Wimbush ended his day with 164 passing yards and two touchdowns with 41 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. Running back Josh Adams moved into fifth place in the school record book for the most all-time rushing yards as he rushed for 106 yards on 18 carries. Adams still appears to be on the Heisman Trophy’s radar. Notre Dame’s ability to make big plays helped to overcome a draining day for the Navy offense. Navy held the football for 42:42 in the game, leaving Notre Dame the football for fewer than 18 minutes. Navy quarterback Zach Abey led Navy with 87 yards on 29 carries and a touchdown (Anthony Gargiulo also had 87 rushing yards, but no touchdowns) as the Irish gave up 277 rushing yards.

Notre Dame will wrap up the regular season on the road next week against Stanford. After that, the Irish will wait to hear their bowl fate. Notre Dame is still in firm position to be selected for a New Years Six bowl game, although a shot at playing in the playoff appears to still be an incredibly long shot with little time to spare.

Navy will also be on the road next week for one more conference game. The Midshipmen take on Houston on Friday afternoon after Thanksgiving. Navy will not play for the conference championship game, but they will play one more game before the bowl season with the annual Army-Navy Game in Philadelphia on Dec. 9.