Game 4 wrap-up: The Bear Trap
USC 27, Cal 9
We walk away from the season’s fourth game with several storylines, but none greater than USC’s continued dominance over Cal. For a program looking to rebound from its first loss, the football Gods could not have served a better offering than Jeff Tedford’s Bears.
Cal (1-3) has equaled its worst 4-game start under Tedford since 2003. What makes this season different, and maybe worse, is that the Bears remain winless against FBS opponents. The program took on a new look in the first three weeks, with an offense appearing explosive enough to remain in ballgames, and a defense allowing opponents the same. It set the stage for a possible firefight at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which would have been a sight unseen in the series for several years. But from the opening kickoff to the clock’s final tick, what we found were the same old Bears.
A bear trap is designed to restrict movement, which renders the prey helpless and vulnerable for the kill. And in the last five years, no one has perfected a better contraption than the model found at USC. The Trojans, like no other, have managed to keep the Bears on a chain. It was witnessed again on Saturday, as its superior design resulted in another dismal performance by an offense previously branded as improved.
Cal offensive totals
Passing: 173 yards
Rushing: 77 yards
Yards per pass: 5.1
Yards per rush: 2.1
The Bear offense scored 11 touchdowns in the 12 quarters prior to Saturday’s game. It was limited to just 3 field goals against USC, which added another stitch in the five year pattern.
With a snare firmly attached, Cal has managed just 3 offensive touchdowns in the last 20 quarters played against USC. Zach Maynard will finish his college career having thrown more interceptions against the Trojans (5) than touchdowns to his teammates (0). USC ran for 296 yards on Saturday, finally breaking out of the season slump. Cal has amassed just 238 combined rushing yards (47.6 ypg) in its woeful five-year stretch. The team has also committed 12 turnovers during the span, and with all elements combined, you get a consecutive string of lopsided losses .
The Trojans continued to build on their active streak against California, now running the number to nine games. It’s the second longest streak in the series, trailing only USC’s 11 straight wins from 1959-1969. The 9 victories not only represent the longest current streak for the Men of Troy over a single conference opponent, it also marks the longest of any Pac 12 member over another.
The Bears celebrated an upset win over the top ranked Trojans in 2003, and each game has been a disaster ever since. What is most disturbing for their fans is the team’s performance against USC in the last 5 meetings, where it not only failed to secure victories, but also failed to compete. This occurred despite a Trojan change in personnel and coaching staffs. And it occurred regardless of California’s movement of players through the program, which provided new names and faces in the backfield.
The last 5 years has dealt only two constants for the Cal football program. One is the presence of head Coach Jeff Tedford, and the other is an annual loss to USC. It’s possible that a change in one may bring about change in the other, which is something the program may have to consider in the future. But as of today, with a system without change, we celebrate another decisive victory for Troy.