USC vs. Cal: 5 things to watch for


When the Trojans venture into Golden Bears territory this weekend, here’s a list of five things to keep an eye on:

Robert Woods:

OK, this one is kind of a given, but you should totally do it anyway. Woods is absolutely beasting through this season, and Cal will be another opportunity for him to show his talents. Through five games, Woods has 747 yards off 55 carries (an average of 13.6 yards per reception) and six TDs. And it’s not even so much the fact then when he gets the ball he does something with it, as much as it is that he’s just plain exciting to watch. A human highlight reel, he’s quick, is not afraid to sacrifice his body to make the catch, and he has taken a few big hits like a champ. His versatility can’t be understated: the man has as much a chance to score on a 50 yard slant or bubble screen as he does on a bomb, and


WR Robert Woods completing a diving catch vs. Minnesota . C/O AP

Barkley’srealized it thus far. He—along with other former Serra star Marquis Lee—is going to put on another dazzling show, without question. So, getcha popcorn ready! It’s gonna get ugly for the Golden Bears.

USC Defense:

redshirt freshmen

Dion Bailey

has been great amazing thus far, leading the team in tackles (23 solo, 40 total) in his first season. It seems that Coach Kiffin’s decision to move Bailey down to linebacker from safety was a fantastic judgment call. The defensive line has had a week to regroup, and it is plausible that this week will bring the standout performance that they’ve teased fans with throughout the year. The potential is infinite, and they stand poised to unleash hell on the Golden Bear No-Line. There might be some changes coming to the secondary, as junior cornerback Isiah Wiley had a few particularly impressive performances during the bye. His presence against Cal would be welcomed if he is showing the ability to make an impact consistently. This game might be a good indicator of just how much—if at all—the defense has really improved.

RS Freshmen Dion Bailey has been having a standout performance this season. c/o Ric Tapia/Icon SMI

  • Zach Maynard & Keenan Allen: The quarterback and wide receiver tag team is doing pretty well for itself, despite Cal’s record. The two have natural chemistry—they are half-brothers, after all—and they have routinely demonstrated that. Maynard has passed for 1291 yards and 11 touchdowns, and Allen has more than half of those yards and 4 of the TDs. Allen is tall and lanky, and in Cal’s game against Oregon showed how that length and athleticism gives him an advantage: Maynard targeted him in triple coverage, and Allen easily outreached the surrounding defenders to complete the catch. They are undoubtedly going to bring it, and will probably put on a good show while doing so.
  • USC & Cal Running Backs: Cal has a more than capable running back in Isi Sofele who is averaging 5.5-yards pery carry but is also coming off of an almost 10-yards per carry game against Oregon. USC has a bunch of differently talented backs, but none have emerged as the clear leader yet, creating a headache for them, the offensive line, the coaches, and fans alike. Expect that both teams will try to establish a run early, but it will be interesting to see who actually succeeds.
  • George Farmer: Word on the street is Farmer is going to play in his first collegiate game this week, and his talent alone makes him an X-factor in this week’s contest. Coach Kiffin burned Farmer’s redshirt last week, much to the surprise and question of many. Why would you un-redshirt a freshman—who was the No. 1 recruit coming out of high school, for the record—when the season is halfway over, and you’re absolutely loaded at his position? Well, you wouldn’t, unless said player was too good to keep off of the field in some capacity. Farmer came into USC as the most talked about receiver in his class, but an injury caused him to fall behind in the competition for playing time. Fellow Serra High School teammate Marquis Lee stepped up and snagged the spot opposite other Serra teammate Woods, and Farmer got sidelined to the service team. The coaches moved him to tailback, and he apparently has been having some great looks at that position, which is what he would play against Cal. Look for him to back up Tyler, and add another factor to USC’s crazy running back situation. And just think: If USC can find a way to successfully have Woods, Lee, and Farmer on the field at the same time, opponents would be dead on arrival.
  • So there ya go: 5 things to watch. Later this week, we will return to these 5 points and see what impact they had on the outcome of the contest.

    Game on.