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Dr. Saturday

Injured Matt Barkley will not start against Notre Dame

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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Matt Barkley, once a Heisman hopeful and future high draft pick, will not start Saturday's game against Notre Dame after suffering a shoulder injury against UCLA.

Barkley was injured late in the game when linebacker Anthony Barr sacked him. Barkley left the Rose Bowl with his arm in a sling. USC did not disclose the nature of the injury or whether Barkley might be able to return for a bowl game.

"I feel bad for him and his family," USC coach Lane Kiffin said. "This is obviously not how you want it to be."

Freshman Max Wittek will make his first career start.

Wittek has played in six games this season — mostly in garbage time — and has completed 8 of 9 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown.

Saturday's game means very little for the Trojans, who are out of the hunt for the Pac-12's South Division title after losing to rival UCLA. But it means everything for Notre Dame, which is ranked No. 1 for the first time since 1993 and a win away from playing for its first national championship since 1988.

[More NCAA football: Notre Dame atop new-look BCS standings]

The Irish were probably going to be an underdog in the game, but with Barkley out, their odds change greatly.

Barkley ends his senior regular season on a low note. Even though he threw for 3,273 yards and 36 touchdowns, he also threw for a career-worst 15 interceptions. Barkley was projected to be a high draft pick had he decided to leave school after his junior season, but his return to USC made the Trojans a national championship contender.

However, things fell apart quickly with a loss to Stanford and then another against Oregon. Saturday's loss to UCLA, the first since 2006, more or less signified the end to a disappointing season. The only thing the Trojans have to look forward to -- other than a middle-of-the-road bowl game -- is ruining Notre Dame's chance at national superiority.

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