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Homecoming Spoiled: USC offense sputters in the 2nd half in 15-14 loss to Cal

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USC offense struggles in the second half as the Cal defeats the Trojans for the first time since 2003.

NCAA Football: California at Southern California Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The story with this Trojans team is there inconsistency. This season USC has been a tale of two teams and tonight it was in full display.

With their Pac-12 South fate on the line, USC started out with an impressive first half against Cal. In the 2nd quarter the Trojans jumped to a 14-0 lead and appeared to be coasting. Late in the 2nd quarter with USC driving. JT Daniels completed a pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown for a first down, however Cal would force St. Brown to fumble fighting for more yardage and recover fumble to get the ball back with seconds left.

The 2nd half would be all Cal from there. It started with a bad snap by Toa Lobendahn that sailed over JT Daniels and into the end zone for a safety. The following drive Chase Garbers hit Vic Wharton III for a 29 yard touchdown. On the ensuing Trojans drive JT Daniels pass to St. Brown was picked off by Traveon Beck which led to a Garbers touchdown run to take a 15-14 lead.

USC defense was looking at a 3rd and long as Cal’s first down completion was under review, however Iman Marshall drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to give Cal a new set of downs and sealed the win for the Golden Bears. The victory gave Cal their first win over USC since 2003. Ending a 14 game losing streak. It also eliminated the Trojans from the Pac-12 South race.

USC looked out of sync in the second half and again gave up another unanswered run since taking a 14-0 lead. The Trojans couldn’t get anything going offensively in the 2nd half and Cal’s defense made things difficult for the Trojans. On back to back drives, Daniels was sacked on 3rd and long as Cal sent all out blitz packages.

USC now holds a 5-5 record and must win one of their two final games to reach bowl eligibility. Questions now fly about Clay Helton’s job security as well as quarterback JT Daniels. Next week USC travels to Pasadena to face the UCLA Bruins in their final Pac-12 conference game of the season.