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College Football Week 4: Cal At #13 USC

(credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) (credit: Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
(credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) (credit: Rich Schultz /Getty Images)

Cal

#13 USC

Jeff Tedford’s squad almost pulled off the upset at Ohio State last week, but a poor kicking game and a late defensive breakdown cost the Bears. Cal hasn’t had a signature win in a long time. This would qualify. Coaching We’ll find out how good of a motivator Lane Kiffin is this week. He will have to get his team to rebound after a crushing loss to Stanford last Saturday.
Cal’s offense looked superb last Saturday, tallying 512 yards and finding a nice run-pass balance. A similar performance may be needed this week to keep pace with the high-powered USC offense. Offense Last week this space asked: Can anyone stop the USC offense? On Saturday, Stanford answered with a resounding “yes.” No quarterback can be effective without any time to throw, and Matt Barkley was harassed all night by the Cardinal defense. If the Trojans can protect their stud quarterback, the offense should get back on track.
The Bears continue to struggle against the run and had some costly miscues in the secondary against the Buckeyes. They will absolutely need to get some pressure on Barkley to be successful. Defense The Trojans gave up more than 200 yards last week on the ground, though Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor is a great talent. Still, this unit lacks depth, which could be a concern as the season progresses.
Ohio State was smart not to kick it to Keenan Allen; he only fielded one of eight punts last week. The real special teams story, however, was Vincenzo D’Amato missing three 40+ yard field goals, including one that would have given Cal the lead in the fourth quarter. Special Teams USC is sold in all aspects of special teams—Marqise Lee and Robert Woods are both great kick returners—but is hoping its punter won’t see the field as much this week.

The winner is

(credit: Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
#13 USC
3 out of 4

Expect a bounce-back effort from USC, which may not be as good as many thought in the preseason, but still has plenty of talent to make a run at the Pac-12 title.

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