In the crosshairs: Cal Golden Bears

Overall record: 3-2
Conference record: 1-2
National rank: none
Last week: defeated UCLA 35-7

This weekend’s focus is on the Pac 10’s perennial underachiever. California is second only to USC in terms of recent NFL production, but remains one of three conference programs (Arizona, Arizona State) to never appear in a BCS Bowl game.

With all the talent that has passed through Berkeley, Jeff Tedford is still seeking a second victory over the Trojans, since recording his greatest feat to date, in an upset victory over No. 1 USC back in 2003. There has been no repeat in six attempts, and with both teams straddling the bottom of the Pac 10 standings, this year’s meeting comes with far less hype than in years past.

“Since we’ve been here, we haven’t won down there, so obviously it would be nice going down there, coming out firing and winning down there … It’d be fun, my last year, just to beat USC. It’s another game in the Pac-10 but it would definitely be fun winning down there.”—Cal QB, Kevin Riley

California by the numbers

Category Nat. Rank Conf. Rank Average
Total offense 49 6 404.80
Rush offense 22 4 212.80
Pass offense 82 9 192.00
Pass efficiency 49 6 138.13
Scoring offense 23 3 35.80
Total Defense 8 1 254.80
Rush Defense 21 2 106.00
Pass Defense 6 1 148.80
Pass Efficiency Defense 4 1 94.51
Scoring Defense 17 2 15.80

The Golden Bears will represent the best statistical defense the Trojans have seen to date. The lone hiccup was 52 points surrendered in the loss to Nevada, but a combined total of 27 points was allowed to the other four opponents.

The Skinny: It’s no secret that Jeff Tedford’s teams live to run the ball. Exit Jahvid Best, and enter Shane Vereen. The key to defeating the Bears is to force the quarterback to beat you, which in this case is Kevin Riley. The senior is inconsistent at times and often makes bad decisions, but he’ll challenge a Trojan defense that is consistent in all the wrong categories. USC enters week seven ranked 116th in the nation defending the pass.

To make matters worse, the Trojans are a banged up unit, with linebacker Malcolm Smith appearing doubtful for Saturday, and defensive end Wes Horton not practicing. Chris Galippo will likely start in place of Smith, meaning the middle linebacker would play out of position.

What USC brings to the Coliseum on Saturday is the best offense Cal has seen. It’s important for the Men of Troy to establish a ground game, after being stifled by Stanford last week. Nevada romped for 316 yards in its week 3 victory over Cal, but even with those figures, the Bears rush defense maintains an average of just 106 yards per game surrendered to opponents on the ground.

All time series: USC leads 61-25-4
Streak: USC has won 6
Last Meeting: 2009- USC 30, Cal 3 (Berkeley)

Fun Facts

  • USC’s last loss to Cal in the Los Angeles Coliseum was on October 28, 2000, Paul Hackett’s final year as a Trojans head coach.
  • USC defenses hold an active streak of 9 consecutive quarters without allowing a California touchdown.
  • Entering this weekend, three National Champions from the past decade (USC, Florida, Texas) are battling to avoid a third consecutive loss.
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~ by Anthony on October 15, 2010.

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