When the second-ranked Trojans take on the Syracuse Orange on Saturday, Matt Barkley will turn 22-years old, and there is surely nothing he (and the USC community) would love better than to celebrate his birthday with a victory. History is in USC’s corner for that to be the case: Syracuse is 1-8 against the AP’s top-ranked team–which USC was last week–and have never beat USC in the series between the two schools.
Let’s look at USC’s most recent victory against the Orange to see what went right for the Trojans that they could repeat on the road at Metlife Stadium.
In 2011, USC welcomed ‘Cuse to the Coliseum for the third game of the season, and Barkley really put on a show. Though the Orange drew first blood by getting on the board 3-0 in the first quarter, USC responded with a vengeance: Barkley completed 26 of 39 passes for 324 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions.
To the credit of the Orange, they came into this game strong. They marched down the field after the opening kickoff 70 yards in 12 plays. The Trojan defense kept them out of the endzone and they had to settle for a field goal, but the Orange looked like they were at least going to give USC a run for their money.
USC responded by scoring 24 unanswered points, beginning with a five-yard touchdown pass from Barkley to Rhett Ellison. The Trojans would score three more times before ‘Cuse responded with a touchdown of their own in the third quarter to make the score 24-10, but that was close as they ever got.
Orange quarterback Ryan Nassib connected on 25-of-37 passes and threw for 230 yards in the loss.
He opened the game completing his first 11 passes, which, combined with his 11 consecutive completions at the end of the game against Rhode Island the week before gave him 22 in a row, four short of the FBS record set by Aaron Rodgers at California.
The win over Syracuse was one of the best games of Matt Barkley’s career, and it’s likely that the Orange have not forgot about it. They return Nassib, who last week threw for an astounding 470 yards en route to completing 44 of 65 passes, throwing for four touchdowns, and one pick. Though USC is on the road this time in unfamiliar territory, they have had success in this region when they beat Penn State 29-5 in 2000. We could very easily see an air show put on by Nassib and Barkley, but expect the Trojans to come away with this one, extending their unbeaten streak against the Syracuse Orange even further.