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USC Football 2020 Preview: Week 2 vs Cal

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USC should run the state this season — though Cal presents one difficult challenge

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 10 Cal at USC Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2020 college football season will look unlike anything we’ve seen before, but at this stage, it’s safe to say we’ll get some football in during the year 2020. How much we get in, is another question.

Still, with that in mind, we continue our preseason 2020 USC Trojans season preview with Week 2, and the Trojans matchup with the California Golden Bears.

2020 Season Preview Series — Week 1 @ UCLA

The Bears return quarterback Chase Garbers, who made his return from injury in last year’s meeting between the teams. Garbers also exited the game against USC with injury but played the final three games of the season with no trouble for Cal, ultimately leading them to victories over Stanford, UCLA and Illinois to close out the year.

Garbers is likely the best returning player for the Bears, at least on the offensive side of the ball, yet he still fals well behind the Pac-12 quarterback rankings than USC’s Kedon Slovis.

He’s a decent passer, showcasing some very strong throws downfield but did struggle at times with down-to-down accuracy. Garbers also struggled when pressured and often looked a bit lost during pressured dropbacks in 2019. Fortunately for him, Jake Curhan and Mike Saffell each return to anchor an offensive line that should be extremely strong under new offensive coordinator Bill Musgraves’ system.

Then there’s Christopher Brown Jr. at running back as he just missed the 1,000-yard plateau a season ago. He only averaged 4.4 yards per carry, but did a ton of his damage after first contact with defenders. Stopping Brown at the point of attack and forcing Garbers out of the pocket and to make pressured decisions will be paramount to keeping the Bears offense in check.

As far as their defense, the Bears have a returning duo in the secondary that will absolutely hear their names called in the NFL draft next year. And both of them are set to play all over the secondary for Cal.

Camryn Bynum is an All-American caliber cornerback while Elijah Hicks is as smart as he is technical and is a great cover safety as he’s transitioning to safety full time in 2020.

They each represent veteran, leaders on the defense, and should anchor an otherwise young secondary, however. It will be no surprise to see Slovis and the Trojans target other defenders in coverage and perhaps look to even find the short-area of the field to take away their strengths on defense.

Cal also loses Evan Weaver from the past few years and will have to replace hundreds of tackles in the process. Kuony Deng and Evan Tattersall will fill the void at linebacker while Cameron Goode is a tough ask to block off the edge.

Overall, Cal is a very solid team but they’re not a 10-win team like some publications had them earlier this offseason. USC has the pieces in place to mitigate the Bears’ strengths in 2020 and that includes major depth at the receiver position to take away their best players on defense and solid edge and linebacker play to deal with Brown out of the backfield and pressure Garbers.

This one should be a Trojan victory. A mighty Trojan victory.