Ten interesting facts about USC vs. Cal, the Trojans first road trip of 2017 to take on the undefeated, Justin Wilcox-led California Golden Bears.
After a double overtime thriller, USC Football takes its show on the road for the first time against the Cal Golden Bears.
The Golden Bears are coming off a big win on Saturday as well, beating Ole Miss, 27-16. This will be the Pac-12 conference opening game for Cal, while it will be USC’s second conference game.
Let’s countdown to the roadshow by the numbers…
Redshirt junior running back Patrick Laird ranks 10th in the Pac-12 for all-purpose yards. The former walk-on averages 124 all-purpose yards per game. Last Saturday versus Ole Miss, Laird had a big game with 78 rushing yards and 28 receiving yards.
As in the yards per attempt that redshirt sophomore Sam Darnold averages in 2017. So far, Darnold has completed 72 of his 108 passes for 1,002 yards and seven touchdowns. Unfortunately, Darnold has also thrown six interceptions. Though, after what he did against Texas in the final 45 seconds of regular and in overtime, you can live with gunslinger trade-offs.
Eighth is where Trojan leading receiver Deontay Burnett ranks in the country in receiving yards per game. The junior wide receiver averages 128.7 yards per game and has been one of Sam Darnold’s most reliable targets. In 2017, Burnett has 24 catches for 386 yards and four touchdowns. He and receiver Steven Mitchell Jr. are the only two receivers to have caught touchdown passes.
The number of players on USC’s roster that went to school in the Bay Area. Tight end Tyler Petite, cornerback Isaiah Langley, cornerback Je’Quari Godfrey, offensive lineman Jalen McKenzie, tight end Erik Krommenhoek and offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker all went to high school in the Bay Area, while punter Chris Tilbey went to San Francisco Community College.
Sixth in the Pac-12 is where Cal ranks in rush defense. After racking up 300 yards of rushing against Stanford, USC followed that up with an abysmal performance against Texas. USC only managed 71 yards on the ground on 37 attempts. Facing a middle of the Pac-12 defense like Cal might be what USC needs to get back on track.
The number of times that the Golden Bear defense got to Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson. Cal’s five sacks against Rebels last Saturday were the most since picking up seven against Washington State in 2015. USC has only allowed six sacks all season long.
The number of tackles that outside linebacker Porter Gustin had in the first half against Texas. Gustin had four tackles, two of which were sacks, in a gutsy first-half performance. The junior linebacker had surgery on his toe earlier in the week and was a game-time decision. After delivering a terrific first half performance, Gustin was pulled by the USC training staff after seeing blood coming from his surgically-repaired foot.
The number of turnovers the Golden Bears have forced in each of the first three games of the 2017 season. Cal had only forced three turnovers in a game twice in all of 2016. The three interceptions last Saturday versus Ole Miss were Cal’s most in a game since the four-interception performance in 2015 against Grambling State.
The number of seasons that Cal head coach Justin Wilcox was the defensive coordinator for USC. Wilcox was the defensive coordinator in 2014 and 2015. In 2014, USC was ranked 78th in the country in total defense. Then in 2015, Wilcox’s final year USC was ranked 65th. In 2016, USC jumped all the way to 36th in current defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast’s return.
When USC faces Cal on Saturday it will have officially been one whole year since the Trojans lost a football game. USC’s last loss was Friday, Sept. 23 to Utah, in Darnold’s first official start. While the last time the Trojan’s lost they were on the road, Saturday USC will look to continue the nation’s second-longest winning streak.