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OTD: Barkley with the firsts of many

Before Matt Barkley could become USC’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns, he needed to throw his first one. That’s what happened Sept. 5, 2009, as USC battered San Jose State behind a true freshman quarterback and a stable of talented running backs.

This was not the start to his USC career that Barkley dreamed of. His first pass went for -2 yards and the Trojans fumbled twice in their first four drives of the game.

But a USC running game that featured Joe McKnight, Stafon Johnson, Allen Bradford, C.J. Gable and Marc Tyler carried the load, as the Trojans ran out to a 35-3 lead as five-consecutive drives ended in rushing touchdowns.

Eventually, Barkley got on the board, finding tight end Rhett Ellison with a 4-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter.

Barkley finished the game 15-of-19 for 233 yard and a touchdown.

The Trojans had their way with the Spartans on the ground. Joe McKnight led the way with 145 yards and two touchdowns. He, Tyler and Bradford all averaged more than 10 yards per carry. Tyler and Bradford each ran for a touchdown, while Johnson added two.

The USC defense recorded 16 tackles for loss and recovered two fumbles in limiting the Spartans to just 121 offensive yards and eight first downs. San Jose State’s field goal came on a drive it started at the USC 34-yard line. The Spartans did not have a drive of more than 10 yards in the second half.

Over his four-year career as the starting quarterback, Barkley would go on to set USC records with 12,327 passing yards and 116 touchdowns, breaking Carson Palmer’s yardage mark and Matt Leinart’s touchdown record.

Previous “On This Date” entries:

Sept. 1 – A Dynasty Begins

Sept. 2 – Woo Pig, Again

Sept. 3 – Woody’s Record

Sept. 4 – Renovated Coliseum sees Morton set a Record

Erik McKinney

Erik McKinney began writing for WeAreSC in 2004, during his junior year at USC, covering the Trojans football team and recruiting. He then moved on to ESPN.com in 2011, where he served as the West Region recruiting reporter and then the Pac-12 recruiting reporter. He took over as publisher of WeAreSC in January, 2019.

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