USC: Case Keenum

Why Matt Barkley needs to go to New York

December, 4, 2011
Matt Barkley isn't going to win the Heisman Trophy. There are too many pieces that would that need to fall in place in too short a time for that happen.

But, examining the numbers from and context of the top six players' performances this season, he really should be going to New York City next week as a Heisman finalist.

Here's why.

There are six players who, as of the start of this weekend, had a chance to be finalists. Four are quarterbacks: Barkley, Stanford's Andrew Luck, Baylor's Robert Griffin III and Houston's Case Keenum. Two are running backs: Wisconsin's Montee Ball and Alabama's Trent Richardson. Luck and Griffin are locks to go to to the ceremony, as is Richardson.

And that could be it -- there have been just three finalists before. But there can also be up to five, and the question here is whether Barkley has done enough to (1) finish in the top five of the balloting, and (2) finish close enough to the top three in the point system that he earns a complimentary trip to the Big Apple.

Here's the somewhat-crazy thing: Barkley's passing statistics are better than Luck's this season, from touchdowns to interceptions to yards. Luck was slightly better in completion percentage, but not by much. And Barkley's numbers are comparable to Griffin's through the air.

Where Griffin -- not Luck, as is commonly perceived -- jumps past Barkley is on the ground, where Griffin accumulated 600-plus rushing yards and nine touchdowns this season. Luck ran for 153 yards.

Then why does Luck deserve more support than Barkley? Sure, his team went 11-1 this year, and he beat Barkley in a head-to-head matchup at USC. But that game was about as close to an even matchup as you can get, and a Luck pick-six was thisclose to costing the Cardinal the game.

Voters should put Barkley over Luck on their ballots. But most won't, and it hurts both of them that two players with such similar resumes come out of the same region. If Barkley and Luck were from different parts of the U.S., it would be safe to assume that each would pick up almost all of the No. 1 votes in his area.

And that's what's important. Being fourth doesn't get you anything in the final vote, as voters only list their top three. Barkley needs to be a lot of people's third choice to be able to go to New York, because he's not going to get very many first-place votes.

Regardless, it looks like Griffin is going to win right now, and it looks like Luck is going to finish second or third in a close fight with Richardson. Keenum is no longer a factor after his implosion in Houston's loss to Southern Miss on Saturday.

Ball's numbers are impressive, but he doesn't have the national name Richardson or the two quarterbacks have. It's hard to envision many people putting him No. 1 on their ballots -- although he's arguably worthy of that. He's kind of like the Barkley of the running backs.

We'll find out Monday, when the finalist list is released. Voters are turning in their ballots as we speak.

About Barkley, it looks like he'll finish fourth in the country, which, of course, is going to spark talk that he should come back for his senior season as the Heisman favorite. But that's not what this is about.

This is what this is about: USC finished the season ranked fifth in the Associated Press poll. Its quarterback was clearly its best player, and he happened to finish the year on a hot streak for the ages.

That player should be a Heisman finalist.

Barkley should go to New York.

Barkley: 'It'll be interesting' to see Heisman nominees

December, 1, 2011
The Heisman Trophy finalist list comes out in four days, with anywhere from 3-5 players expected to be announced as having earned a trip to New York City next weekend for the trophy presentation.

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck is expected to be on it, as is Alabama running back Trent Richardson and probably Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. Then there are three other candidates with significant supporting sects of the country whose selection will determine how players end up on the list: Houston quarterback Case Keenum, Wisconsin running back Montee Ball and USC quarterback Matt Barkley.

Barkley indicated Wednesday night that he feels he deserves to be a finalist and would feel somewhat slighted if he didn't make the list. And he brought up his season statistics as a primary reason why.

"I would say pretty disappointed," Barkley told anchor Neil Everett on SportsCenter from Los Angeles when asked what his reaction would be if he didn't get an invite to the Big Apple. "Just looking at numbers, it'll be interesting what happens with that come next week.

"But, like I said, I think we put forth our best foot in terms of the striking performances throughout the year and against big teams like going up to Oregon and beating them. And finishing out 50-0 against UCLA. Things like that."

Barkley, a draft-eligible junior, threw for 3,528 yards, 39 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2011. He completed over 80 percent of his passes in the Trojans' final two games against Oregon and UCLA, boosting his stock and leading to increased talk of a Heisman campaign.

Before the Oregon game, he had little to no national buzz. But after he led USC to an upset win in Eugene, the school created a highlight video championing him for the Heisman, and he started to find his way into a number of national mock-voting lists.

Barkley said he's long envisioned himself as a Heisman winner. But it sounds as if he'd be content simply being named a finalist.

"It's something I've always dreamed about as a kid," he said. "Just the chance to go to New York would be unbelievable and I think we put forth a good effort this season to be recognized.

"Hopefully something happens."



C. Kessler452315382639
B. Allen27614895.411
J. Davis1295954.64
N. Agholor104131312.612
J. Smith5472413.45