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USC embarrassed by thought of another rout

Quarterback Matt Barkley has seen USC lose to Stanford two drastically different ways. Quarterback Matt Barkley has seen USC lose to Stanford two drastically different ways. (ezra shaw/Getty Images)
Associated Press / October 29, 2011

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Stanford’s Andrew Luck will finish just ahead of Southern California’s Matt Barkley in just about every football metric that counts if both quarterbacks head to the NFL next year.

The Pac-12 standings, head-to-head victories, Heisman Trophy voting, pro draft boards - Barkley realizes he’ll probably always be looking up at Luck.

Barkley won’t feel second-best if his 20th-ranked Trojans can figure out some way tonight to stop the juggernaut that’s been built around his Northern California counterpart.

Two of the nation’s top quarterbacks face each other for the third time in their college careers when No. 4 Stanford (7-0, 5-0) looks to extend its 15-game winning streak with a third straight victory over host USC (6-1, 3-1).

Luck and Barkley have only a passing acquaintance. What’s personal to Barkley is the feeling he gets when he thinks about Stanford’s two victories over the Trojans during his tenure - the first in a historic blowout in 2009, the second on a field goal as time expired last season.

“I don’t like the thought of losing or being embarrassed like that in my head,’’ Barkley said. “I guess it’s kind of a pride thing, wanting to prepare so well that that doesn’t happen, so I don’t have to go through that, don’t have to face a loss like that.’’

Luck left last season’s victory over USC with more relief than excitement after engineering a last-minute drive to the decisive field goal. That victory was the start of Stanford’s current winning streak, and the Cardinal haven’t even been in a tight spot since last November, winning a record 10 straight games by at least 25 points.

In a night game in 2007, coach Jim Harbaugh’s Cardinal recorded one of the most improbable upsets in recent history, snapping the No. 2 Trojans’ conference-record 35-game winning streak with a 1-point victory as a 41-point underdog.

Two years ago, Stanford returned for the highest-scoring performance ever against USC, a 55-21 thrashing.

One of the biggest wins during Bill Snyder’s first tenure at Kansas State came in 1993, on a Saturday in late October, when Oklahoma came rolling into town.

Snyder was in his fifth year of rebuilding arguably the worst program in the history of college football, and despite modest success, was still in search of a signature victory.

The Sooners were ranked No. 13 at the time, and had no reason to believe the incredible winning streak they’d had against the downtrodden Wildcats would end. But on a homecoming afternoon, Kansas State stunned them, 21-7, and would go on to finish 9-2-1 and reach its second bowl game ever.

“It was one of the steps we felt, ‘Yeah, we kind of took another step,’ ’’ recalled Bob Stoops, who was an assistant to Snyder at the time and is now the head coach at Oklahoma.

As fond as those memories are, Stoops doesn’t want Snyder to earn another program-defining victory today, when the 11th-ranked Sooners visit No. 10 Kansas State.

The Wildcats (7-0, 4-0) are ranked in the top 10 in the Bowl Championship Series standings and are tied for first with Oklahoma State in the Big 12. They’ve knocked off Miami and Texas Tech on the road, and beat up Baylor and Missouri at home.

The Sooners (6-1, 3-1) figure to come into the game ornery after a 41-38 loss to Texas Tech last Saturday, which snapped a 39-game home winning streak.

No matter how much longer Joe Paterno plans to coach, the 100,000-plus fans who pack Beaver Stadium today could witness one of the final milestones of his Hall of Fame career.

A victory over Illinois (6-2, 2-2 Big Ten) would give Paterno 409 with Penn State (7-1, 4-0), breaking a tie with Grambling State’s Eddie Robinson for most wins among Division 1 coaches.

Only John Gagliardi, still active at Division 3 St. John’s in Minnesota, has more (481).