Originally posted on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 12/22/11

Matt Barkley, the junior quarterback for the Southern California Trojans, has decided to return to school for the 2012 season. That means he'll be slinging the ball to Robert Woods and fellow 1,000 yard receiver the rising sophomore Marqise Lee and on the defense standout TJ McDonald is ready to go as well. The Trojans have the pieces to be something special as they absorb just a handful of truly significant losses on both sides of the ball.

Most notable of all the losses will be left tackle Matt Kalil who elected to go pro at the close of this, his junior season. Another tough loss for the Trojans will be standout junior defensive end Nick Perry who joins Kalil in the push to the next level. Seniors like DaJohn Harris, Chris Galippo, Rhett Ellison and Brandon Carswell will be out as well but with the way Lane Kiffin has been recruiting, even with sanctions, there are some bodies waiting to step up and fill the holes left by the graduating seniors.

Barkley's presser went fantastic, clearly demonstrated the charisma and the poise that has kept the kid cool and calm in the pocket. Capable of commanding an audience or getting a team down the field. He threw a head nod to the NCAA and the USC detractors alike when he said this teams has persisted through the "negativity and unfairness" of outsiders. Then the rising senior pointed out that yes, he is NFL ready by the measure of those folks who make such decisions.

However Barkley let us know what he was doing by saying:

"I have not yet finished my journey as a Trojan football player."

The deal was sealed. Hammered home as Barkley says:

"Unfinished business to attend to and I intend to play a part in it!"

He's back folks. The Trojans appear mighty loaded and ready to take on a Pac-12 South that has three new head coaches, a second year coach, a team that'll be playing its second ever Pac-12 season. It seems the south division should be there's for the taking, shoot, they won it this year going away.

But nationally what does it mean?

Oregon with Darron Thomas, De'Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner will be in the hunt for another Pac-12 title so they are not just national contenders but also the Trojans primary opposition in the conference. LSU has a team with talent for days and with all those underclassmen playing heavy minutes in the backfield it seems like Zach Mettenberger will have a chance to step in and pilot another SEC championship caliber team. Georgia returns plenty from a team that is one of the nation's most improved teams in 2011.

Throw Alabama and they're machine into the mix and you've got a gang of schools that will be squaring off with the Trojans for that top spot entering 2012. Out of the likely top teams for next season Southern Cal has got the best quarterback of the bunch so expect to see plenty of National Championship hype surrounding Lane Kiffin's squad and for Barkley to get the Andrew Luck pre-season Heisman hysteria.

As quick as this season passed we're already looking forward to next year's!

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