The Cal Golden Bears take on the USC Trojans in the Coliseum on Saturday for another Pac-12 After Dark showdown that is certain to have an affect on the Pac-12 South race. The Golden Bears have not beaten USC since 2003, though they boast a defense that is currently No. 19 in the nation. We spoke with Robert Hwang of SB Nation’s Cal site California Golden Blogs. Will these be the Golden Bears’ year against a struggling USC offense?
1. Cal uses a two quarterback system with Chase Garbers and Brandon McIlwain. Who do you think gives the Golden Bears the best chance to win?
It has to be Chase Garbers. McIlwain has come in as the “change of pace” quarterback but it has gone terribly wrong when asking him to throw in clutch situations. That resulted in turnovers and points for the other team. They’ve finally taken the “AND” off of the depth chart for the week. It’ll be interesting to see if that actually means a benching or if it’s just gamesmanship leading into the game.
2. What happened to Ross Bowers? Is he hurt or did he get benched?
We were curious about that as well, and we had a lot of theories. It was confirmed by Rusty Simmons of the SF Chronicle that he is indeed injured. Other than that we don’t have any information on when he was injured, what the injury is, or if he’s coming back. There has been a lot of speculation but currently he is not on the depth chart. So we won’t know when he’ll be ready to go, if at all this season.
3. Cal’s defense came out of nowhere it seems this season, who are the top two leaders on that front that USC should look out for?
I wouldn’t necessarily say it came out of no where this season, but it is vastly improved from an already improved team from last season. The coaching staff has turned around this defense in two years into arguably the best defense in the conference. And to continue that trend the Bears need to rely on linebacker Evan Weaver and cornerback Camryn Bynum. Evan currently is in the Top 20 in tackles in the country and has come on strong the last few weeks with back to back interceptions against UW and WSU. Cam has been our lockdown corner and despite not having the stats to show for it he’s been highly graded by PFF.
4. What are some keys to the game for Cal?
Cal needs to shut down the run game of USC and force Daniels to throw. The defensive backs have been the strength of this team and will need to reproduce the same type of production they got against UW and WSU. On the other side of the ball? Just score touchdowns. We’ve FINALLY shown the ability over the last few games to drive the ball down the field in time-eating drives but we’ve either turned the ball over or only gotten field goals. We just need to find a way to score someway somehow.
5. What is your most memorable moment of Cal facing USC?
I don’t know if there are any memorable moments since we’ve lost the last decade plus. My personal one was my freshman year at Cal in 2007. It was a rain game and ,although we lost, it was one of the greatest stadium atmospheres in the world.
6. Give us a score prediction?
This is going to be a tough one. I’m predicting another defensive slugfest. I still have to hope Cal finally breaks the streak. Cal wins 17-14.