College Football Predictions: California Golden Bears at USC Trojans

California Golden Bears at #13 Southern California Trojans
Saturday, September 22, 2012, 6:00 pm Eastern, TV: Pac 12 Network
Los Angeles Coliseum – Los Angeles, California

Opening Line: USC -17
Current Line: USC -16 1/2
Opening Total: 58
Current Total: 58 1/2
Opening Money Line: USC -800 / Cal +550
Current Money Line: USC -900 / Cal +600

USC tries to rebound from a 21-14 loss at Stanford last week as the Trojans host Cal. It is the 100th meeting all time between the Golden Bears and Trojans.

he USC Trojans and California Golden Bears meet for the 100th time Saturday night in Los Angeles. The two schools have played every year since 1926, but the series dates back to 1915. The Trojans lead the series 64-30-5. USC has won 8 straight in the series, and 9 of the last 10, including a 30-9 win last year in San Francisco. Cal was the home team in that game while their stadium in Berkeley was being renovated.

Cal is 1-2 this season under Jeff Tedford. The Golden Bears have losses at home to Nevada 31-24 and last week at Ohio St 35-28, along with a 50-31 home win over Southern Utah. Cal is averaging 465 yards per game, including 257.3 passing yards and 207.7 rushing yards. The Golden Bears are giving up 411 yards on defense per game, including 257 passing yards and 154 rushing yards. Cal is outscoring opponents 34-32.3 this season. The Bears are 1-2 ATS and the total is 1-1 this season.

California was a 17 point underdog last week at Ohio St, and the total was 55. The game was back and forth all day. Ohio St took a 20-7 lead at halftime, but that was the largest lead for either team. Cal scored 2 straight touchdowns to take a 21-20 lead early in the fourth. The Buckeyes took the lead again with touchdown and a two point conversion to make it 28-21. The Golden Bears scored with 8 minutes to go to tie it up. Ohio St scored with 3:26 left in the game. Cal drove into Ohio St territory but quarterback Zach Maynard threw an interception. The Buckeyes were able to run out the clock to escape with the victory.

California had 512 total yards including 288 passing yards. Maynard completed 26 of 37 passes for 280 yards with a touchdown and the interception. Running back Brendan Bigelow had 4 carries for 160 yards with 2 touchdown runs of 81 and 59 yards. The Bears only had the one turnover and 4 penalties, but kicker Vincenzo D’Amato missed all 3 field goals he attempted. The Buckeyes had 412 total yards including 249 passing yards. Ohio St also had one turnover, but they had 11 penalties for 101 yards.

Maynard has completed 60 of 90 passes this season (66.7%) for 754 yards with 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Running back Isi Sofele has 45 carries,  212 yards and a touchdown, along with 5 catches for 53 yards. Bigelow had only 2 carries before last week’s huge game. C.J. Anderson has 23 carries, 125 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Keenan Allen has 20 catches, 216 yards, and a touchdown catch, along with a touchdown run. Chris Harper has 15 catches for 183 yards and 2 touchdowns. Cal has 4 linebackers and 3 offensive linemen listed as doubtful or out due to injury.

USC is 2-1 this season under coach Lane Kiffin. The Trojans opened with a 49-10 win at home against Hawaii, and a 42-29 win over Syracuse in New Jersey. Last week, the then #2 ranked Trojans traveled to Stanford and lost 21-14. It was the fourth straight loss to Stanford for USC, and dropped them to #13 in the rankings. USC is averaging 400 yards per game, including 278.3 passing yards and 121.7 rushing yards. On defense, the Trojans are allowing 378.7 yards per game, including 248.3 passing yards and 130.3 rushing yards. USC is outscoring teams 35-20 this season. The Trojans are 0-3 ATS and the total is 1-2 this season.

USC was a 9.5 point favorite at Stanford last week, and the total was 56. Quarterback Matt Barkley came back to USC for several reasons. He wanted to win a National Championship, first and foremost, and contending for the Heisman trophy would be icing on the cake. Plus he had never beaten Stanford in his career, the only Pac 12 he hadn’t beaten. Those dreams probably disappeared last Saturday at Stanford. The Trojans took a 14-7 early in the second quarter, but would not score for the rest of the game. Stanford tied it up with 10 second to go in the third. The Cardinal took the lead 21-14 with 10:20 left in the fourth. USC would have two more possessions but went 3 and out on the first. The Trojans got the ball back with 2:44 left. They advanced to the Stanford 48 but a series of penalties and sacks backed them all the way back to their own 24. USC had to convert a 4th and 40. Needless to say they didn’t. Stanford took a knee with 9 seconds left to finish off the upset.

USC had 280 total yards, including 254 passing yards from Barkley, who had 2 interceptions and no touchdowns. He was sacked twice on USC’s final desperation drive. The Trojans had 26 rushing yards on 28 carries. Running back Silas Redd had 2 touchdown runs, but he only had 17 yards on 13 carries. USC had 3 turnovers, and Stanford had 2. Strangely,  all 5 occurred in an 8 minute stretch in the second quarter, and no points were scored as a result of them. The two teams combined for 15 penalties. Stanford had 417 total yards including 202 rushing yards. The Cardinal missed all three field goal attempts, to even give USC a chance to win the game.

Barkley has completed 66 of 109 passes for 813 yards with 10 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Receiver Marqise Lee has 29 catches, 363 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Robert Woods has 20 catches, 173 yards, and 4 touchdowns, along with a 76 yard run. No other Trojan receiver has more than 5 catches. Redd has 37 carries, 180 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with a catch for 41 yards. Curtis McNeal has 23 carries for 110 yards. The Trojans are also banged up with 2 centers and 4 defensive players listed as questionable or out. Depth was already a problem for the Trojans because of scholarship limitations put in place by NCAA sanctions.

Cal is 4-0 ATS in conference games, 21-10-1 after passing for 280 yards or more, 3-7 after a cover, and 3-8 in road games. The Golden Bears are 6-2 ATS at USC recently. The road team is 4-1 ATS in the last five in this series.

USC is 4-1 ATS in Pac 12 games, and after scoring less than 20 points, 8-3 after allowing 200 rushing yards or more, 18-8 after a straight up loss, and 0-4 in September. USC is 6-1 in the last 7 against Cal, and the under is 7-1.

With Barkley, Lee, Woods, Redd, and McNeal, the Trojan offense should be averaging way more than 400 yards per game. Yes, Stanford has a great defense, perhaps even the best in the Pac 12, but USC had only 14 points and 280 yards. USC was held scoreless for the last 40 minutes of the game. The running game was non-existent. I think the Trojans will be angry this week, and take out their frustrations on a Cal team that they have dominated recently. Cal hasn’t scored more than 17 points in their 8 game losing streak to USC and has lost the last 3 by a combined score of 108-26.

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