USC vs. Cal: The End of an Era and the State of the Trojans
This Saturday will mark the 112th and final meeting between USC and Cal as Pac-12 rivals. USC‘s impending move to the Big Ten next season adds significance to this matchup, as it signals the end of an era for these in-state rivals. USC comes into this game seeking redemption after consecutive losses to Notre Dame and Utah, which has all but diminished their hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff. Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams has struggled during the month of October, failing to throw a touchdown pass in the Utah game and throwing three interceptions against Notre Dame. On the other hand, Cal looks to salvage their season with a win, having dropped three of their last four games. This article will discuss the implications of this game, the history of the USC–Cal rivalry, the Trojans’ defensive struggles, and the state of the USC locker room.
One Final Game in the Rivalry
The USC–Cal rivalry has a long and storied history, with USC currently leading the all-time series 72-6-33. Cal has managed to bounce back in recent years, winning two of the last four matchups. The last time these two teams faced off in Berkeley, Cal came away with a 24-14 victory. Last year, despite entering the game with a losing record, Cal pushed the Trojans to the limit in a 41-35 loss. While Cal may not match up talent-wise with USC, they have shown resilience and should not be underestimated. The end of this era marks a significant turning point for both programs, as they will no longer be conference foes. As they bid farewell to this rivalry, both teams will be motivated to leave a lasting impression.
Can the Trojans’ Defense Stop the Run?
One area of concern for USC has been their defensive struggles, particularly in stopping the run. The Trojans currently rank last in the Pac-12 in rushing defense, allowing an average of 164.3 yards per game on the ground. Cal, on the other hand, has been successful in establishing their running game, averaging 195.4 yards per game, ranking them third in the conference. Cal running back Jaydn Ott has been a focal point of their ground attack, leading the team with 601 rushing yards on the year. Cal has had success when Ott surpasses 100 rushing yards, winning both games in which he achieved this milestone. If USC hopes to come away with a victory, they will need to find a way to limit Cal‘s rushing attack and disrupt their offensive rhythm.
State of the USC Locker Room
After their heartbreaking loss to Utah, the Trojans’ hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff have been significantly diminished. Williams, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, has also struggled to maintain his high level of play in recent weeks. Additionally, head coach Lincoln Riley missed a significant portion of the team’s practice due to illness, raising concerns about the state of the USC locker room. This game against Cal can serve as a crossroads for the Trojans, either spiraling further or rallying together to prove themselves as a formidable team. The outcome of this game will provide valuable insights into the mental and emotional state of the USC players and coaching staff.
Editorial and Advice
Looking at the odds provided by SportsLine, USC is favored by 11 points. However, given their recent struggles and the potential for a resilient performance from Cal, this spread may not be easily covered. USC needs to put together a complete game on both sides of the ball to build confidence and regain their winning ways. This game serves as a crucial test for the Trojans, as their upcoming schedule includes tough matchups against Oregon, Washington, and UCLA.
For USC, it is essential to focus on their defensive performance and address their issues in stopping the run. Improved run defense will not only help them in this game but also provide a foundation for success in future contests. Additionally, as the Trojans face uncertainty in their locker room, it is crucial for the players, coaching staff, and program as a whole to demonstrate resilience, unity, and determination.
As for Cal, they should approach this game with the mindset of a potential upset. Despite being unranked, they have the opportunity to make a statement and disrupt USC‘s season. Capitalizing on their strong running game and exposing USC‘s defensive weaknesses will be key to their success.
In conclusion, the USC vs. Cal matchup represents the end of an era and carries significant implications for both teams. USC aims to bounce back from consecutive losses, salvage their season, and regain their winning momentum. Cal seeks to secure a win and improve their chances of reaching a bowl game for the first time since 2019. The outcome of this game will offer valuable insights into the state of the USC program and determine the trajectory of both teams’ seasons.
<< photo by Sherman Trotz >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.
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