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Staff Predictions: Cal at USC

Will the Cal Golden Bears snap a 15 year losing streak to the USC Trojans? The CC staff weighs in.

California v USC


Things have been better with Clay Helton at the play-calling helm. Last Saturday at Oregon State, we saw JT Daniels effectively throw short and intermediate balls. For the first half of the season, the offense was too boom-or-bust, relying only on the deep ball on a solid running game. Ultimately, an effective short and intermediate game will keep the chains moving. Drives become longer and more effective; there are fewer three and outs. The defense is more likely to bite of fakes, making the deep passing game more efficient.

Whether Helton can continue his play-calling success is a question. So is Daniels’ ability to succeed in the short game, which requires a greater knowledge of scheme and less arm strength.

On the defensive side, a talented USC defense gets linebacker Cameron Smith back from injury. His presence will be pivotal against a Cal offense that leans on a running quarterback and senior running back Patrick Laird. Ultimately, Helton’s play calling and an up-and-down Trojan defense prove too much for the Bears.

USC 28 Cal 22


The USC Trojans are only one win away to secure a bowl berth, which would be their seventh consecutive bowl appearance. The California Golden Bears look to prevent the Trojans from doing so however, after almost beating the No. 8 Washington State Cougars last week.

If the Golden Bears’ defense did not break down in the last several minutes of their game last week, they would have had a chance to have one of the biggest upsets of the season. Unfortunately, the Cougars scored a touchdown with 32 seconds left to crush the Golden Bears’ hopes for an upset win. The Trojans should not overlook them however, Cal was able to keep even with the Cougars due to their defense. Recording 52 tackles, one interception, and three tackles for a loss, the Golden Bears kept the Cougars on their toes, a big reason why they were able to stay in the game.

Coming off one of their most dominating wins of the season, the Trojans hope to continue this success on their homecoming weekend. Quarterback JT Daniels looked as though his injury never affected him as he had a good game against the Oregon State Beavers. However, the player that was most impressive was running back Aca’Cedric Ware who rushed for 205 yards and three touchdowns on only 17 carries. If the Trojans wish to win this game, they will have to hope for that same consistency on the ground.

The Trojans will start their game against the Golden Bears fast. With 200 yards passing in the first half, Daniels will control the Bears defense the entire game. The Golden Bears will have no chance against the newly coached Trojans.

The Trojans cruise to a win, 41-17


USC Head Coach Clay Helton’s play calling gets put to the test against Cal’s defense.

If anything, last week showed that the offense under Clay Helton is headed in the right direction so far. This week USC will get a much stiffer test against Cal. The Golden Bears pushed Washington State last week until the final seconds of the game. USC on the other hand came away with a 38-21 victory over Oregon State, A game where the Trojans almost gave momentum to the Beavers to tie the game up.

Cal’s defense tends to create fits for teams, however at times you never know with the Golden Bears. Last week we saw USC work the run game and alleviate pressure off JT Daniels with quick passes and screens to allow their playmakers to operate in space. It will be a test for the Trojans as Cal’s secondary gives up 189 yards a game through the air and has 13 total interceptions. The biggest question will be USC’s defense as they’ve struggled against the Beavers last week. Will the Trojans’ secondary adjust to the quick passes and get pressure on the quarterback? Cal’s offense is one of the worst in scoring as they average 21.3 points a game.

This game could turnout like the Arizona State game, Low scoring and kind of sloppy. I expect the Trojans offense to once again have a solid showing with the defense holding up their end to keep them alive in the Pac-12 South.

USC- 28 Cal- 17


A win against Cal would mean that USC would be that much closer to winning the Pac-12 South. The odds are in the Trojans’ favor for they face a struggling Golden Bears offense and hold a 15 year win streak against the program in general. Where Cal could upset USC however is on the defensive front.

Cal boasts the No. 19 defense in the nation and has a rock solid defensive line and a talented backfield. USC can not afford to struggle on offense this week against arguably the most talented defense they have faced this year.

I predict it will be a heavy hitting, low scoring game. I think USC will struggle on the ground against Cal’s big guys up front, so it will be up to JT Daniels and the Trojans’ talent in their wide receivers to get into the end zone. I predict that it will be no easy task, and the offense will struggle all game but eventually get something going late in the third quarter.

USC’s defense will have to help put this game away if it wants to win. Both teams have offenses that have struggled heavily this year, and both teams have defenses that have the talent to carry a team. I predict that the Trojan defense will have no trouble stopping the Golden Bears’ offense, but in a game like this you don’t have to get into the end zone multiple times to win the game.

I predict the game will be won in the last few minutes, with USC defense coming up with a major stop to help the Trojans gain a victory notch.

USC 20 Cal 14