The Trojans (4-3, 2-2) will make their annual trek up Interstate-5 to face their in-state rivals, the California Golden Bears.
The Golden Bears started the season 5-0 before dropping their last two games to Utah and UCLA. The Bears were a few plays away from pulling off the upset in Salt Lake City two weeks ago but were embarrassed at the Rose Bowl this past Thursday. Expect Sonny Dykes to have his team ready to play, not wanting drop three straight games.
Possible No. 1 pick in next year's NFL Draft, Jared Goff, leads an explosive Cal passing offense that ranks second behind only pass happy Washington State in the PAC-12 with 346 yards a game. With Goff averaging almost 40 pass attempts per game, you can expect the Bears to come out with the ball flying.
Six-Foot-Three wide receiver Kenny Lawler has become one of Goff's favorite targets, especially in the redzone. Lawler has nine touchdowns on the season to go along with 39 receptions and 497 yards. Lawler is one of four Cal receivers with at least 400 yards on the season. Expect a lot of passes like these in the red zone.
The Golden Bears take a running back by committee approach with Khalfani Muhammad and Vic Enwere leading the way. Cal has only had one game with a 100 yard rusher this season.
The Trojans will hobble into California Memorial Coliseum after four players went down with injury against Utah. Tight ends Tyler McNamara and Tyler Petite suffered a separated shoulder and foot injury respectively. Freshman Marvel Tell suffered a broken collarbone and is out for the foreseeable future while back-up center Toa Lobendahn suffered a torn ACL and is out for the season. Lobendahn had been filling in for the injured Max Tuerk, leaving the Trojans with their third-string center for the rest of the season.
The Trojans played arguably their best game against the Utes on Saturday and will look to build off of that performance. Ronald Jones II has emerged as an explosive change of pace back for the Trojans as he went for 73 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. A healthy dose of RoJo should be expected on Saturday.
USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) October 25, 2015
While the Trojans may not be too deep at wide receiver with both Darreus Rogers and Steven Mitchell hindered by injury, they still have one of best at the position in JuJu Smith-Schuster. The second year receiver is currently sixth in the country with 907 yards on 47 receptions. Expect senior quarterback Cody Kessler to target Smith-Schuster early and often.
The Trojan defense, especially the young secondary, will have its hands full against an elite Cal passing offense. The Trojans did a phenomenal job getting pressure on Travis Wilson, forcing him into throwing four interceptions, but have been exposed by the likes of Kevin Hogan and DeShone Kizer. Getting pressure on Goff will be key to the Trojan's chance of victory.
Kessler made much better decisions against Utah after forcing passes against both Washington and Notre Dame. In all four wins this sesaon, the Trojans have won the turnover battle. In games against Washington and Notre Dame, Kessler's combined four interceptions ended up dooming the Trojans. Kessler needs to keep it simple, manage the game, and let his playmakers like JuJu and Adoree' make the plays for him.
Let's hope for more Cam pick-6's come Saturday.
Kickoff is set for 12 PM this Saturday and will air on Fox.
Beat the Bears. Fight On!
Oh and can we get more of these please?!