After 3 grueling games at home the USC Trojans (3-0) play their first road game of the season as they head north to take on the California Golden Bears who are surprisingly also 3-0 despite two early games against Power 5 opponents. The Trojans are heavy favorites on the road and have not lost to the Bears in a very long time. USC is coming off an emotional, hard-fought victory while the Bears have proven to be an exceptional team in the second half of their first three games. Key injuries to the Trojans could also play a vital role in the game as well. USC looks to keep rolling while the Bears are looking for the upset. If you couldn’t make up to Berkeley for the Weekender then here is how you can watch.
How to Watch:
Start time: Saturday, September 23, 12:30 p.m. PST
Location: Memorial Stadium - Berkeley, California
Radio: Tune in
Live Streaming: WatchESPN
“Poor tackling on one end of the ball and dropped passes on the other end (how is this team 3-0?!!) is a recipe for absolute devastation. The Trojans have many missed opportunities on offense—and yes some of these involve Darnold’s cross-body throws, but we’ll reserve criticism for Darnold until the receivers surrender less drops
Once a QB, converted WR Jalen Greene is the primary culprit of these dropped passes. Greene has shown an abundance of versatility and can legitimately prove to be this team’s ultimate weapon on offense—but HE NEEDS TO CATCH THE DANG BALL.
Deontay Burnett is heavily-targeted out of necessity while Stephen Mitchell Jr. is also a part of the Butterfinger Gang in USC. I don’t see this team as truly balanced, due to the lack diversity in the passing game.
The running back duo of Jones III-Carr have been mostly solid throughout the season, but adding another dimension in the passing game will make this team much more dangerous.
If USC continues to drop passes in this game particularly on passing downs, we’ll be in for another barn-burner—considering they won’t have home-field advantage, this one might end differently.”
Vegas Odds: USC -17, O/U 64.5
FPI Matchup Predictor: USC 82.6% chance to win
S&P+ Score Prediction: USC 40 Cal 25
Massey Prediction: USC 38 Cal 30. USC with an 73% chance to win.
CFP Predictions Composite: USC wins by 13
“Cal is going to put up a fight. Last week the Golden Bears' defense was led by the efforts of sophomore outside linebacker Cameron Goode who impressed with an interception returned for touchdown.
In addition to Goode, sophomore cornerback Camryn Bynum had a few impressive pass breakups as well as Devante Downs, who had a career game by recording a stellar interception early on and, later sealed the win by sacking Shea Patterson —finishing the game with 14 total tackles, two sacks, and an interception.
USC cannot sleep on this opponent. They are playing inspired football and Justin Wilcox has seemingly flipped the culture in Berkeley. We could be a season or two away from seeing Cal really make strides towards being a top Pac-12 team.”
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“Cal’s head coach Justin Wilcox will have his 3-4 defense ready against his former team. Wilcox used to be the Trojans defensive coordinator and coached while Clay Helton was the interim head coach for the Trojans in 2015.
Once the interim tag was taken off Helton let go of Wilcox for Pendergast, who was Cal’s old defensive coordinator from 2010-2012. The USC offense led by Sam Darnold and Ronald Jones II has been a well oiled machine early on—however Texas may have put the blue print out on slowing down the Trojans.
The team is also banged up and could be without Steven Mitchell Jr. this Saturday. We could see USC try to impose their will against Cal on the ground this Saturday and utilize their skill. This will be a case of who knows who better.”