Plenty of yards are expected when USC’s Matt Barkley and Arizona’s Matt Scott meet on Saturday. Not as many as last time, though.
The last time was epic. It was Oct. 4, 2007. Barkley was a junior quarterback for Santa Ana Mater Dei, the No. 1 team in the state of California. Scott, a senior, led No. 2-ranked Centennial High of Corona.
Ten thousand people packed the Santa Ana Bowl.
Mater Dei won 51-37 in a game that featured 1,295 yards of offense, the most ever in a California high school game until last week, when Porterville defeated Tulare 86-79 (yes, 86-79) with a combined 1,331 yards of offense.
MaxPreps.com this summer deemed the Mater Dei-Centennial game as the fourth-best high school game in the nation in the past 10 years.
“It was a good game. He ended up winning the game, so there’s some bad blood I guess you could say,” Scott said of playing against Barkley.
“It was a high-scoring game with a lot of points. They just ended up with the win. Of course, I’m going to feel that still.”
While the yardage record was pegged at 1,295 yards, two reviews of game film at the time put the total at 1,303 yards.
Centennial put up 682 yards — 506 on the ground. Scott threw for 176 yards and rushed for 178. Ryan Bass, who would sign with Arizona State before transferring to Idaho (where he is the Vandals’ leading rusher this season), ran for 328 yards and four scores.
Barkley was 21 of 31 for 364 yards and two touchdowns, leading Mater Dei to 621 yards.
Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez hadn’t heard of this legendary high school game in Southern California until ESPN.com’s Ted Miller asked him about on the Pac-12 coaches teleconference this week.
“I’m sure there is some competitiveness,” Rodriguez said.
“I think there is probably a little bit of that with a lot of our guys. We have a lot of California guys on the team. I don’t know how many of them were recruited by USC, but I’m sure a lot of our guys played against a lot of their guys in high school.”
But not in a game like that.
Barkley became the No. 1 high school recruit in the nation and is four-year starter at USC. Scott is in his fifth season at Arizona, but this is his first as the full-time starter and he has never played against the Trojans.
Rodriguez and USC coach Lane Kiffin have been trying to one-up each other this week with praise about each other’s quarterback and offense.
“They are really good and they’re very dangerous,” Kiffin said of the Wildcats. “They are just absolutely lighting people up.”
USC is coming off an easy 50-6 win over Colorado in which Barkley set a Pac-12 accuracy record by completing 19 of 20 passes (95 percent).
“You talk about efficient,” Rodriguez said. “He was on the mark. Every pass was right on time, right on the money. He’s been one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the Pac-12. We’re facing one of the all-time greats.”
Arizona is fifth in the nation with 548.71 yards per game. USC is 41st at 421.29 yards per game, a more modest figure that doesn’t begin to indicate the kind of elite talent the Trojans have. The yardage figures have been held down by some conservative game plans.
It could very well be another shootout when Scott and Barkley meet in a rematch.
“It is a big opportunity for me,” Scott said.
“He’s a great quarterback, a great leader of the team and it’s going to be a good game.”
* * *
The video below is mostly from the Mater Dei perspective, but there are some highlights of Matt Scott, No. 10 for Centennial, from the game five years ago: