USC Football: What the Cal Game Means for Utah

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Sep 22, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans tailback Silas Redd (25) is pursued by California Golden Bears safety Josh Hill (23) and linebacker Robert Mullins (37) at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC defeated California 27-9. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Against Cal: Trojan rushers gained 307 yards on the ground. Silas Redd shouldered the load with 21 carries, 159 yards and a touchdown. Curtis McNeal added 116 yards on 10 carries. In unusual circumstances, USC ran the ball more than they passed.

What that means for Utah: The performance of the USC ground game has important implications for the season. It was a chance for the maligned Trojan offensive line to attack a defense and get their mojo back. It was an opportunity for Kiffin to add much needed dimension to his pass-happy offense. It was a showcase for the veteran running backs, Redd and McNeal, to prove that they could lead the team to a victory. And they certainly did. Matt Barkley and the passing game was out of sync and Cal ran a defense designed to limit the pass, clearing daring the Trojans to run. Redd and McNeal made them pay for that. Many a team will attempt to do the same and the fact that the offensive line and running backs stepped up is a great sign.

Just don’t get too excited and start to think that USC is suddenly capable of being a power run team. Statistically Cal has the worst rush defense in the conference. Utah by comparison, is among the best at stopping the run. In fact, Utah is in the top half of the conference in just about every defensive statistic. The Trojan offense line and running backs should be feeling more confident going into this game than they were coming out of the Stanford game, but it is unlikely that the run game alone can carry the team to victory over Utah. Barkley, Robert Woods and Marqise Lee will need to put their stamp on the game as well.

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