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Three Takeaways from USC’s loss to Cal

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For a team that was ranked No. 15 in the country at the start of the season with hopes of making it to the college football playoffs, the USC Trojans are now hoping to make it to a bowl game at the very least.  

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

On a season that has been consisted of injuries and coaching changes, the USC Trojans are lucky to be 5-5. Coming into their game against the California Golden Bears, the Trojans were predicted to win by a hefty margin. But just like how the rest of the season has gone, the Trojans gave up 15 unanswered points, to lose a nail-biting contest.

Coaching brings down the Trojans again

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

The Trojans got off to a fast start, scoring two touchdowns and outsmarting the Golden Bears’ defense in the first half. This all changed however as the Bears came out firing in the third quarter scoring 15 straight points and completely shutting down the Trojans’ offense to eight yards. The rest of the game was a back and forth affair that kept each team from scoring. The Trojans did have opportunities to pull ahead in the game however. With 3:03 left in the game, the Trojans were faced with a forth and second situation at their own 44-yard line. They were set to go for it, but head coach Clay Helton called a time out and changed his mind. Going for it might have changed the momentum of the game, but losing the time out was what was the most detrimental at the end of the game.

USC needs to protect the football

After going +1 on turnovers the week before against the Oregon State Beavers, the Trojans went -2 on turnovers against the Golden Bears. Both the turnovers that USC committed turned out to be game changers. Right before the first half ended, the Trojans were inside their own 20 yard ling about to score what looked to be another touchdown to pull ahead by 21 points. But after what looked like to be a first down, wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown fumbled the ball to crush any chance of extending the lead. Then, in the third quarter, JT Daniels threw an interception that resulted in the game-winning score for the Golden Bears. All in all, the turnovers by the Trojans proved very costly when all said was done.

Where’s the O-Line?

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

Against the Beavers USC was able to run for 332 yards on the ground, as well as only allowing two sacks to Daniels. This week against the Golden Bears however, the Trojans ran for less than 100 yards and gave up an unprecedented four sacks. Apart from running back Aca’Cedric Ware, who continues to have a fantastic season, the Trojans’ offensive line protection was almost non-existent. In addition to the Trojans’ rushing woes, Daniels was forced to scramble on almost every play which resulted in 13 incompletions on the night. If the Trojans wish to make it to their seventh consecutive bowl game, their offensive line will have to play much better against their crosstown rivals, the UCLA Bruins.