USC’s Matt Barkley leaves stadium with right arm in a sling, putting status for Notre Dame in question

Matt Barkley's season started with hopes of a national title, a Heisman Trophy and locking up the top spot in the NFL Draft next April. His senior season may have ended on the turf of the Rose Bowl as UCLA handed the Trojans their fourth loss of the season.

Barkley suffered an apparent right shoulder injury in the fourth quarter of USC's 38-28 loss to UCLA. Depending on how serious the injury is, Barkley might miss next week's season finale against Notre Dame, which might have BCS Championship Game implications for the undefeated Irish, and maybe USC's bowl game too. With USC's season not going anywhere, there's really no need for Barkley to rush back for a bowl game and further risk his draft status.

The exact nature of Barkley's injury wasn't disclosed by tight-lipped USC, although Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News said he heard Barkley's shoulder is separated. Beto Duran, a reporter for ESPN Radio in Los Angeles, tweeted out a picture of Barkley leaving the stadium with his right arm seemingly in a sling under his jacket:

Max Wittek, a redshirt freshman, came in after Barkley's injury. He has 11 career attempts - though he has completed eight, and threw for a touchdown against Colorado. He is 6-4, 235 pounds and was a highly decorated recruit coming out of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., the same high school Barkley and former USC quarterback Matt Leinart went to.

Barkley returned for his senior season despite a good chance he would have gone in the top 10 of last April's draft. He and his USC team have had a difficult and disappointing season, as the Trojans have lost four games and Barkley has thrown 15 interceptions. Barkley is still probably going to go very high in the draft despite a season that hasn't been that great, assuming he doesn't have long-term damage in his throwing shoulder. This year's crop of quarterbacks for the draft isn't very deep and teams like Kansas City and Jacksonville are in desperate need, so it's hard to see Barkley falling that far.

Still, it isn't what Barkley had in mind when he came back.

"Nothing can do now," Barkley said, according to Duran's tweets. "Can't pout. Isn't how expected it to turn out."

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