California will attempt to snap a four-game losing streak this Saturday when the Golden Bears travel to USC. It will be a tall task as Cal faces its second straight top-10-ranked opponent. The Bears were shellacked by Oregon, 42-24, last week.
USC is pushing for a spot in the College Football Playoff. First on the to-do list is a Pac-12 regular season title. The Trojans are currently a half-game behind Oregon for the league lead.
The schedule works out well for the Trojans, last week’s win at Arizona is the last time they’ll leave the Los Angeles area this regular season. They have three home games and a crosstown game at UCLA remaining.
California Golden Bears vs. USC Trojans
Saturday, November 5, 2022 – 10:30 PM EDT at Los Angeles Coliseum
The Golden Bears have had a woeful offense for much of the season. Cal has scored 20 or fewer points in four games this season, including 13 in overtime against Colorado.
The Bears are the fourth-worst offense in Power Five and 110th ranked (out of 131) in the country. Cal went without scoring for nearly 40 minutes of game time against Oregon, the eighth time they’ve had a drought of 20 minutes or more, the droughts make up nearly half of Cal’s entire season so far.
Quarterback Jack Plummer has not thrown for 300 yards in a game yet this season, and coach Justin Wilcox had to answer questions after Oregon about whether he would stick with Plummer as the starter (he will).
Cal will continue to rely on its run game. Jayden Ott was named a midseason freshman All-American and is among the Pac-12 and national leaders in rushing yards and yards per carry.
Sickbay in Troy
USC is a heavy favorite at the best sportsbooks in Saturday’s game, and that may allow coach Lincoln Riley to be cautious in bringing back the large number of players on the Trojans’ roster who are battling injuries.
Wide receiver Mario Williams was the latest to join the list. Riley said he had a “tweak come up” before the Arizona game. So even though Williams dressed, he did not play against Arizona. Riley didn’t specify what body part got tweaked, so it appears he’ll be a game-time decision again, as information is scarce.
Fellow receiver Jordan Addison has also been out with a leg injury. Of course, without their top two targets, the Trojans still got 435 all-purpose yards from the receiver corps against Arizona, including 100-yard days from Tahj Washington and Kyle Ford.
Left guard Andrew Voorhees also missed the Arizona game with an undisclosed injury. Riley called it a “physical issue”.
On defense, USC gave up 500 yards for the second straight game, and a number of Trojan defenders are ailing. Linebackers Ralen Goforth and Eric Gentry were out with a hand and ankle injury respectively, while pass rusher Korey Foreman missed for undisclosed reasons.
Coming off a loss to Utah, USC’s only defeat on the year so far, Riley sat all the ailing star players and escaped Tuscon with an eight-point win.
It remains to be seen if he’ll do the same at home against a Cal team with a similar record to Arizona’s, or if that score was too close for comfort, and he’ll have some of his key contributors play at less than 100%.
USC’s defense is a huge question mark. The Trojans have given up 80 points over their last two games.
The offense has more than enough firepower to outscore Cal in a shootout, but the steep point spread at the NCAAF odds might be a big ask for the Trojans to cover.
Look for Riley to continue to be conservative with the injured players and for Cal to struggle to keep up on offense.
Score Prediction: USC 48 - California 31
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