By JOHN P. WISE
One Great Season
EUGENE, Oregon -- College football observers outside of Southern California grew sick of Matt Barkley before he took his first collegiate snap.
There was so much preseason talk about whether he'd steal away the starting quarterback job after Aaron Corp went down with a knee injury in August. Pete Carroll fell ga-ga and ESPN followed suit, giving USC's next Golden Boy plenty of air time that irked many.
Barkley then gave Trojan haters even more reason to leave anonymous comments in the blogosphere by demonstrating more than confidence after USC thrashed San Jose State in the season opener.
When asked by a Los Angeles Times reporter if there was anything difficult about his first college game, a 56-3 cakewalk, he smiled and said, "The run up the tunnel at halftime. That was brutal."
The training wheels came off between that game and USC's next one seven days later, a visit to Columbus to play perennial power Ohio State in front of its 105,000 scarlet-sweatered loyals.
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Sports By Brooks wrote prior to that game that "the atmosphere will be nuts. I probably don't even know how it will be. But that won't faze him."
Barkley also once said his team could win "in Alaska in the snow. That's how confident I am in this offense. There can be 500,000 rooting against me."
And this week he's already wondered about the crowd at notoriously raucous Autzen Stadium, where No. 10 Oregon will entertain USC in a heavyweight Halloween showdown that will give the winner the inside track to the PAC 10 championship and a bowlful of BCS cred.
"The energy is going to be awesome and it's going to be a cool atmosphere, especially on Halloween night," Barkley said. "Who knows what their uniforms will be? Probably something crazy as usual."
Barkley then shoved his youthful curiosity aside, and got back to being, well, Barkley.
"I feed off that energy, I feed off that noise," he said. "I love it."
And of course, that's what I asked Oregon coach Chip Kelly about today, and here was his brief reply: