Looking Forward to California


Bear hunting season is in full effect as the Golden Bears head down south to face USC. Here are some stories to keep in mind for Saturday.

ESPN Pac-10 blogger Ted Miller:

"Power Rankings: 5. California: It’s possible the Bears are pretty darn good and that the Nevada game was just one of those “any given Saturdays” that was even weirder for it being on a Friday. Really impressed with the defense against UCLA. 9. USC: It feels weird ranking the Trojans ninth in the Pac-10. But not as weird as it would have a year ago. And there were some things to like — including a show of heart — from the loss at Stanford. It appears the Trojans have an offense that might be able to outscore people. And with their defense, that’s probably the only way they’re going to win games. Preview: California (3-2, 1-1) at USC (4-2, 1-2), FSN, 3:30 p.m.: Cal should be plenty motivated after getting blistered 30-3 at home by USC last year. How motivated will USC be after losing consecutive games on last-second field goals? A critical game for the Bears to climb in the Pac-10 pecking order. And a critical game for the Trojans to show they are still relevant in the conference, even if they can’t play in the postseason. What to look for: Riley vs. the Trojans secondary: USC has struggled on defense as a whole this year, but it is much worse against the pass — see a young secondary that tackles poorly — than against the run — see a talented, if thin, front-seven. Last week, Cal’s senior QB Kevin Riley had a forgettable game passing, but he’s going to have to throw well to win at USC. The Trojans rank 116th in the nation in passing defense (287.5 yards per game), so that is a weakness Riley must attack. While Riley has been inconsistent throughout his career, he also has posted plenty of efficient performances. He’ll need one of those for the Bears to win. Predictions: California 28, USC 24: The Trojans struggling defense is banged up, and the Bears have enough D to hold Matt Barkley and company in check."

The Los Angeles Times:

Nevada’s offense did a number on the Cal defense and put up 52 points. In games not against Nevada, the Bears are allowing a meager 6.5 points per game. Lane Kiffin believes the Golden Bears dismal performance in Reno was an aberration.

To put it lightly, USC’s secondary has had its share of issues covering wide outs. Looking for some sort of answer, Lane Kiffin is looking to employ freshman wide receiver Robert Woods as a nickel back.

The Orange County Register:

Despite all the Kiffin bashing by some USC fans, Pat Haden believes the first-year coach is “doing great.”

With only 70 players on scholarship, depth is an issue at USC. Now, it is starting to take its toll.

A week after Matt Barkley missed a few crucial passes that could have iced the game against Washington, he rebounded beautifully against Stanford. Part of his rebound could be attributed to critique from his head coach.

The San Jose Mercury News:

Cal manhandled the UCLA Bruins in Berkeley last Saturday. Jon Wilner assigns a grade to the performance.

The San Francisco Chronicle:

Cal quarterback Kevin Riley is in his third year as a starter. Despite the experience, he hasn’t shown tremendous poise or played particularly well. He will need to step up if the Golden Bears want to beat USC for just the second time in Jeff Tedford’s tenure.