Quarterback Matt Barkley said his ninth-ranked Trojans, done with their 2011 season because of NCAA sanctions, could beat any team in the country at this point.
USC, who finished the season 10-2 with road wins over Oregon and Notre Dame, is playing well enough to win the national championship, Barkley said Wednesday on ESPN's Jim Rome is Burning.
“I definitely think we are," Barkley said from USC's Heritage Hall. "We’re playing the best football USC football’s been playing in a while, and we can hang with anyone I feel like. We’re playing at a high level where guys our meshing and our chemistry is on fire, both on offense and on defense.
"I feel like we could play anyone right now."
Asked by Rome if he really thought the Trojans could beat teams the caliber of No. 1-ranked Louisiana State and No. 2-ranked Alabama, Barkley didn't hesitate.
"They’d be challenges no doubt, but I think with our skill that we have on both sides of the ball and the talent that we have -- yeah, we could," he said.
Barkley finished the season with a 69 percent completion percentage, more than 3,500 passing yards, 39 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.
His coach, Lane Kiffin, said before the 2011 season that Barkley's goals for the year were 3,000+ yards, 30+ touchdowns, 10 or fewer interceptions and a 70-plus percent completion percentage.
The Trojans would be playing in Friday's Pac-12 champiomship game against Oregon had they not been sanctioned by the NCAA in June 2010. Instead, Pac-12 South Division second-place team UCLA (6-6) is trekking to Eugene to play the Ducks.
USC won't play another game until next September.