California Golden Bears at Southern California Trojans
Los Angeles Coliseum – Los Angeles, California
Thursday, November 13, 2014, 9:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: USC -14 1/2
Current Line: USC -14 1/2
Opening Total: 72
Current Total: 71 1/2
Opening Money Line: USC -625 / California +475
Current Money Line: USC -650 / California +500
The 6-3 Southern California Trojans host the 5-4 California Golden Bears Thursday in a key Pac 12 battle. USC is 5-2 in the South Division and tied with UCLA for second behind 5-1 Arizona State. California is 3-4 in the North Division and the Golden Bears can become bowl eligible with one more win for the first time since 2011. Cal only won one game in 2013.
USC leads the series against Cal 66-30-5. The Trojans have won 10 straight games against the Golden Bears. USC won last year in Berkeley 62-28. Cal has not beaten USC since 2003, and has not won in LA since 2000.
California is coached by Sonny Dykes. The Golden Bears have a loss at Arizona 49-45, at home against Washington 31-7, at home against UCLA 36-34 and Oregon 59-41. Cal has road wins at Northwestern 31-24, Washington State 60-59 and 2 weeks ago at Oregon State 45-31, along with home wins over Sacramento State 55-14 and Colorado 59-56 in double overtime. The Golden Bears are 6-3 ATS and the total is 6-3 this season. California was a 3.5 point underdog against Oregon State and the total was 63. The Oregon State win snapped a 3 game losing streak.
USC is coached by Steve Sarkisian. The Trojans have road losses at Boston College 37-31, and Utah 24-21 and a home loss to Arizona State 38-34. USC has home wins over Fresno State 52-13, Oregon State 35-10, and Colorado 56-28, along with road wins at Stanford 13-10, at Arizona 28-26, and two weeks ago at Washington State 44-17. The Trojans are 6-3 ATS and the total is 4-5 this season. Southern Cal was a 7.5 point favorite at Washington State and the total was 69.
Cal is outscoring teams 42-40 this season. California is #9 in scoring and #122 in points allowed out of 128 FBS teams. The Golden Bears are #11 in total offense nationally at 501 yards per game including the 4th best passing attack at 396 yards per game. The rushing game is #86 nationally at 148 yards per game. On defense, California is allowing 526 yards per game including 376 passing yards and 149 rushing yards. The Golden Bears are #126 in total offense, dead last in pass defense, and #52 in rushing defense. Cal is even in turnovers with 13 takeaways. Cal is averaging 75 penalty yards per game and their opponents are averaging 78 yards per game. The Bears are 78/159 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 72/168. California has forced 12 sacks this season and allowed 20. The Golden Bears are 35/39 scoring in the red zone with 28 touchdowns, and opponents are 38/46 with 29 touchdowns. Cal has two kick returns for touchdowns and has allowed a fumble return and an interception return for touchdowns.
Cal quarterback Jared Goff has completed 62.6% of his passes for 3,119 yards with 27 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Running back Daniel Lasco has 147 carries for 796 yards and 10 touchdowns, plus 27 catches for 324 yards and 2 touchdowns. Khalfani Muhammad has 43 carries for 201 yards and 4 touchdowns, plus 7 catches.
Receiver Stephen Anderson has 34 catches for 509 yards and 3 touchdowns. Bryce Treggs has 40 catches for 462 yards and 5 touchdowns. Chris Harper has 32 catches for 454 yards and 5 touchdowns. Kenny Lawler has 29 catches for 404 yards and 6 touchdowns. He is probable with an ankle injury Trevor Davis has 21 catches for 360 yards and 4 touchdowns, plus 2 kickoff return touchdowns. Davis is probable with a concussion. Six defensive players are questionable or out for the Golden Bears.
USC is outscoring teams 35-23 this season. The Trojans are #30 in scoring and #34 in points allowed. Southern Cal is averaging 459 yards per game on offense including 286 passing and 172 rushing yards. The Trojans are #34 in total offense and #25 in passing. On defense, USC is allowing 398 yards per game including 260 passing and 138 rushing yards. The Trojans are #39 in rush defense and #104 in pass defense. USC is +8 in turnovers with 16 takeaways. The Trojans are averaging 75 penalty yards per game and opponents average 50. Southern Cal is 74/160 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 54/151. USC has 20 sacks and has allowed 21 this season. The Trojans are 31/35 scoring in the red zone with 26 touchdowns and opponents are 24/35 with 16 touchdowns. USC has 4 defensive/special teams touchdowns and has allowed 2.
USC quarterback Cody Kessler has completed 69.7% of his passes for 2,548 yards with 25 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Running back Javorius Allen has 196 carries for 1,124 yards and 8 touchdowns along with 28 catches for 334 yards and a touchdown. Justin Davis has 86 catches for 387 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 9 catches for 67 yards and a touchdown.
Receiver Nelson Agholor has 66 catches for 863 yards and 8 touchdowns, along with 2 punt returns for touchdowns. Juju Smith has 38 catches for 501 yards and 5 touchdowns. Darreus Rogers and Bryce Dixon each have 3 touchdown catches. Seven defensive players are questionable or out for the Trojans.
Cal is 4-0 ATS in road games, 5-2 after scoring more than 40 points, 6-13 against teams with winning records, 5-11 after allowing more than 280 passing yards, 8-18 overall, 5-12 after gaining more than 450 total yards, 6-15 in Pac 12 games, 2-6 in November, 1-4 after rushing for 200 yards or more, 3-12 on grass, and 1-5 in Thursday games. The road team is 13-5 ATS in this series recently. The under is 8-2 in this series recently including 4-1 in Los Angeles.
USC is 6-1 ATS after allowing less than 100 rushing yards, 5-1 on grass, 4-1 at home and after gaining more than 450 yards, 5-2 after scoring more than 40 points, 10-4 in Pac 12 games, 5-2 after allowing more than 280 passing yards, 15-6 after a bye week, 7-3 against teams with winning records and overall, 32-15 in November, 3-7 against teams with winning road records and after a straight up win of 20 points or more, and 6-15 after a straight up win. The Trojans have covered the last 5 times against the Golden Bears and were favored in each of those contests.
This should be a shootout with two shaky defenses and explosive offenses. Cal has won 5 games despite a defense that might be the worst in the country. I think USC wins and covers easily in this game.