OPEN THREAD: #7 USC at #24 California


Is this the game, where Jeff Tedford and California are finally able to beat the Trojans for the first time since that infamous 2003 double overtime upset?

#7 USC (3-1, 1-1) @ #24 California (3-1, 0-1)

Date: Saturday, October 3, 2009
Time: 5:00 PM PST
Location: California Memorial Stadium (71,799) Berkeley, CA
TV: ABC – PXP: Ron Franklin, Ed Cunningham
Radio: ESPN Radio – PXP Pete Arbogast, Paul McDonald; SL: John Jackson
Line: USC by 5

2-Minute Drill

The last time Jeff Tedford’s California football program got a marquee win over USC was back in 2003, where a Matt Leinart-led Trojan team fell to the Bears in double overtime by a score of 34-31. Now, six years later, Cal fans are growing increasingly frustrated with Tedford’s inability to post another victory over the Trojans and earn a trip to Pasadena for the annual Big Ten-Pac 10 Rose Bowl Game. If they are unable to defeat the Trojans this evening, it appears as if Cal will once again not only have to wait another year to get a crack at Pete Carroll’s dominating program, but also miss out on the opportunity to head south and play in “The Granddaddy of Them All” this January. The same goes for USC, as it appears increasingly unlikely that any two-loss Pac-10 team will be able to earn a bid to the prestigious bowl game simply because of the conference’s improved play this year.

So with the stakes raised in this annual “SoCal-NorCal” rivalry, expect both teams to be looking to rebound from tough losses and take out their frustrations on the opposition. Cal, after averaging 48.7 points per game in its first three contests, was embarrased by Oregon 42-3 on the road in Eugene last week for their first loss of the seasn. On the other side, USC is coming off a loss to Washington 16-13 from two weeks ago, but more importantly, is dealing with the loss of senior running back Stafon Johnson, suffered a crushed neck and larynx after the bar he was bench pressing slipped and fell on his throat.

Playing with Johnson’s tragic accident at the forefront of their minds, the Trojans aim to keep both their BCS championship and conference title hopes alive, as they take on a Cal team striving to prove that last week’s nightmarish defeat at Oregon was a mere fluke. If the Trojans are to be successful in their quest, they will need to do one thing – stop committing so many penalties.

Against Washington State, the Trojans totaled over 400 yards of total offense, yet produced just 27 points in large part because the team committed 13 penalties for 115 yards. The week before against Washington, Carroll’s bunch had 8 penalties for 75 yards. Turnovers have been the achellies heel for this team as well, as they have committed a combined 5 turnovers in the past two contests. They won’t be afforded so many opportunities against a tough Cal team on the road.

Another question mark facing the Trojans is a sputtering offense that has been rather inconsistent over the past few weeks due in large part to an injured quarterback in Matt Barkley and an ineffective signal caller in Aaron Corp. With Barkley coming off a solid performance against Washington State (13-of-22, 247 yards, 2 touchdowns) and an impressive week of practice, many are wondering if this could be the week the Trojans break out of their shell and revert back to the early season form.  But whether their predictions come to fruition likely depends on the play of the wide receivers and offense line, not Barkley.

While Damian Williams has been nothing short of spectacular this season, the rest of the receiving core has been quite a disappointment, as Barkley has lacked another receiver who is able to step up and make plays on a consistent basis.  So far David Ausberry has struggled to hold on to the ball and Brian Carswell and Brice Butler have yet to show the ability to reliable threats. If any of them step up tonight, the Trojans offense will be far more effective against an already stingy Cal secondary. Getting that in order and getting the offensive line to stop committing so many penalties, will likely determine whether Pete Carroll’s bunch returns to Los Angeles with a “W” in the wins column.


I think the Trojans have more problems that people realize right now, and because Cal is looking to rebound from the loss to Oregon, I see them playing with a lot of energy and passion. In the end, I think Tedford finally gets his second victory over Carroll…

California 31 USC 21