Saturday’s USC vs. Cal score wasn’t a good one for the Trojans, who suffered their first loss to the Golden Bears since 2003.
The lowdown: The first half was a dominant one for the Trojans’ defense, holding Cal to just 69 total yards at a 2.88 yards per play average. The Bears didn’t take a snap beyond the 50-yard line and only crossed into USC territory on a Chase Garbers run in which he fumbled. Clay Helton’s offense took advantage with 14 points before halftime, scoring on a pair of touchdown passes from JT Daniels to Tyler Vaughns.
But they could’ve done more damage. USC botched a fake field goal attempt on their first drive and fumbled in the red zone to end the half. They’d regret that.
The third quarter was all Cal. Senior center Toa Lobendahn’s umpteenth wayward snap of the season bounced into the end zone for a USC safety on the Trojans’ first drive, ending what appeared to be a valiant attempt at a shutout for Clancy Pendergast’s defense.
Garbers and company finally got into gear in the second half. The Bears scored on two-straight drives, both helped with prime field goal position following a free kick and a JT Daniels interception. Garbers’ 5-yard run into end zone gave Cal a 15-14 lead, which they’d settle for after missed two-point conversion attempt.
The Bears wouldn’t look back, holding in the fourth quarter to beat the Trojans for the first time since 2003.
USC just couldn’t do anything in the second half, gaining just 41 yards of total offense on 31 plays, a mark somehow worse than Cal’s first half output. The Trojans had 237 yards of total offense in the first half.
The takeaway: What more is there to say about this team and these games? It’s the same movie over and over and over again.
It’s why Saturday night’s game with Cal was a microcosm of it all, featuring a blown 14-0 lead, failed opportunities to extend the lead, bad snaps, untimely defensive breakdowns, mismanaged timeouts, horrendous penalties and an offense that completely forgot how to get first downs in the second half.
It’s unacceptable. Yet it continues. Every. Single. Week.
Stat of the game: With the loss, not only did Cal snap USC’s 14-game winning streak over the Bears, but Clay Helton’s perfect record in November as USC’s full-time head coach. He’s now 8-1.
Next on tap: One UC down, one more to go. USC concludes their Pac-12 season next Saturday in Pasadena when they take on arch rival UCLA (2-8) with the hope of becoming bowl eligible.