Tro­jans far short of their ex­pec­ta­tions

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - Byjohn Er­fort

EL PASO — A sea­son that be­gan with so much prom­ise for South­ern Cal­i­for­nia will end Mon­day in a place few would have ex­pected to see the Tro­jans this bowl sea­son.

USC started the sea­son No. 1 in the coun­try with a quar­ter­back fa­vored to win the Heis­man Tro­phy. Losses to Stan­ford and Ore­gon took the Tro­jans out of the na­tional ti­tle pic­ture, and losses to Ari­zona, ri­val UCLA and then fi­nally to Notre Dame sent them tum­bling to sec­ondtier bowl sta­tus.

In­stead of the BCS, the Tro­jans (7-5) will face Ge­or­gia Tech (6-7) in Sun Bowl. Both teams are un­ranked and rid­ing two-game los­ing streaks, and USC will be with­out in­jured quar­ter­back Matt Barkley (shoul­der).

The Tro­jans ad­mit they had much greater ex­pec­ta­tions for them­selves, but they also are happy to be in a bowl game af­ter a two-year ban and will try to sal­vage a sea­son that slipped through their fin­gers af­ter a 6-1 start.

“We wanted to be in a bet­ter bowl game, and that’s typ­i­cal, but we de­cided our own fate and this is where we’re at,” All-Amer­i­can re­ceiver Mar­qise Lee said. “Things hap­pen to the great­est teams out there. Some­times sit­u­a­tions hap­pened where there’s strug­gles, and that’s what we had. So now we’re here, just ready to play and fo­cused — en­joy­ing prac­tice and en­joy­ing our days here, and we’ll be ready to play on Mon­day.”

Barkley, the first three­time cap­tain in team his­tory, in­jured his right shoul­der in­jury in the for that other than the one we’re on right now, one of the best bowl games out there go­ing against one of loss to UCLA. It was an­nounced Thurs­day that Barkley was not cleared to play in the Sun Bowl. He put to­gether one of the great­est ca­reers in USC his­tory and is ex­pected to be one of the first quar­ter­back drafted by the NFL in April.

It is not the sea­son Barkley en­vi­sioned when he de­cided to re­turn for his se­nior sea­son and put off the NFL.

“I wouldn’t say tough. It’s not like you really have an ex­am­ple to look to as how to han­dle it with all the success teams in the past have had at this school,” Barkley said. “It’s been def­i­nitely a learn­ing les­son, not some­thing I could have imag­ined, but then again noth­ing is guar­an­teed.”

Barkley’s in­jury means that red­shirt fresh­man Max Wit­tek will get his sec­ond start. the best de­fenses.”

Clem­son of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor and quar­ter­backs coach Chad Mor­ris also spoke of the game as a chance for the na­tion to wit­ness Boyd’s bril­liance.

“It’s the stage that he’s

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