The last time USC lost to Cal, the Red Sox hadn’t won a world series in 85 years. Last week, they won their third title in 9 years. Tomorrow afternoon in Berkeley, the Bears will try and not lose to USC for the 10th consecutive time. Can the Trojans use their 17-point Vegas advantage to help put the streak to double digits? Our staff weighs in:
Matthew Moreno | USC 38, Cal 17
Cal is obviously struggling this season with their only win coming against Portland State. They don’t run the ball particularly well and to say their defense is decent, would be putting it nicely. However, Cal can move the ball through the air and USC has struggled against teams that run any variation of the spread offense. This could be an issue with Morgan Breslin now out and Leonard Williams’ status up in the air. If the Trojans are unable to get pressure on Jared Goff, Cal could move the ball well. But, I don’t think they’ll be able to do much more than move the ball here and there, and USC wins comfortably 38-17.
Michael Castillo | USC 31, Cal 23
Cal hasn’t had much success in the win column, but don’t take the Bears lightly. They can move the ball and give the Trojans fits in the secondary, where USC has been shoddy at times. With Leonard Williams possibly out for the game, the Trojans will need to get in Jared Goff’s face with more urgency like they did in the first two weeks against Taylor Graham in week 1, when they played without Morgan Breslin for the first time. Like against Connor Halliday and Sean Mannion, the SC defense will need to force mistakes and poor decisions and rely on a bend-but-don’t-break defense. A potentially thin defense line could be what Cal needs to at least put USC on upset alert, with a huge game against rival Stanford coming up next week. Ultimately, USC wins by taking advantage of Cal’s loose defense but it’s closer than the experts think. Goff will get his yards.
Alicia de Artola | USC 40, Cal 13
The Trojans have only hit the 40-point mark once this season, in the loss to Arizona State, but if ever there was a time to rack up that many points again, this is the week. Cal’s defense is bad. Really bad. They rank near the bottom of the country in just about every major defensive statistic. They don’t log many sacks, they don’t grab many interceptions and they give up a ton of points. With the Trojan offense finding their groove last week behind the solid running of Silas Redd, the break away scoring ability of Buck Allen and the return of a mostly healthy Marqise Lee, I expect USC to put up points. Cal’s offense isn’t much to speak of either, but they do produce a lot of yards, if not touchdowns. If the Trojans defense, which has thrived with a bend but don’t break kind of attitude, keeps the Bear receivers from breaking loose the game shouldn’t be close. Basically, the only way this stays close is if the Trojans spend too much time daydreaming about a potential upset against Stanford next weekend.