Football: USC game thread

FINAL SCORE: USC 27, Cal 9. Sorry for the second-half absence. Had wireless problems at the LA Coliseum, then deadline. My game story.

The Bears (1-3, 0-1 Pac-12) lose their ninth in a row to USC. They’ve been outscored 152-38 in the past five, and have not beaten the Trojans in LA since 2000.

Obviously, the two-weekend road trip from hell was a black hole for Cal. At least they were competitive at Ohio State. USC dominated the line on both sides of the ball, stuffed Cal’s run, sacked Zach Maynard seven times and unleashed their own two-headed ground game that accounted for 296 rushing yards.

To a man, the Bears still maintain they can recover and qualify for a bowl game. Of course, what else would you expect them to say about just four games?

The fact is, only one team in Cal history — Jeff Tedford’s second team in 2003 — has rebounded from a 1-3 start to reach a bowl. Only one other team (1970) overcame 1-3 to finish with a winning record.

The problem is not merely math — although having to win five of their final eight won’t be easy.

The problem is that several of the teams still ahead on their schedule — Oregon State, Arizona State and UCLA — are better than we might have guessed a month ago. Then there are Oregon and Stanford, both very troublesome.

Not sure yet what to make of Washington, but at least the Huskies are playing at Berkeley. Cal must go on the road to play Utah and Washington State.

Point is, remove Oregon and Stanford (as likely losses) and the Bears must win win five of the remaining six. And most of those are toss-up games, at best.

A tall order.


HALFTIME: USC 17, Cal 3. Updated stats. USC has 300 total yards, Cal a season-low 98. Maynard is 8 for 14 for 66 yards with one INT. Barkley is 15 for 22 for 135 yards with one TD and two INTs. USC has out-rushed Cal 158-32, thanks to 113 yards on six attempts by Curtis McNeal. C.J. Anderson is Cal’s top rusher with 19 yards. Brendan Bigelow has been on the field for one offensive snap and caught a 1-yard pass. Has not run the ball.

0:03 2nd Q: Andre Heidari kicks 40-yard FG for USC, which leads 17-3. But Cal gets a break when Barkley trips over own feet and falls for 7-yard loss on third-down play.

4:16 2nd Q: Cal LB J.P. Hurrell’s first career INT at USC 26-yard line gives Cal possession. 

7:01 2nd Q: USC answers decisively, going 75 yards in six plays with Barkley passing 11 yards to Marwise Lee for the TD. USC leads 14-3.

10:15 2nd Q: D’Amato makes one — a 24-yard FG that cuts the USC lead to 7-3. Cal converted a 4th-and-2 play when Maynard passed 11 yards to Keenan Allen, then a 3rd-and-10 play on a 10-yd pass to Allen. Bears went 62 yards in13 plays. Maynard also ran the ball four times for 27 yards on the drive.

END OF 1ST Q: USC leads 7-0. Total yardage: USC 155, Cal 67. Turnovers: USC 1, Cal 1. Botjh QBs are 6 for 9 with one INT. USC has 119 rushing yards, Cal just 22.

1:56 1st Q: Vincenzo D’Amato tries 35-yard FG — misses wide right this time. That’s 0-for-4 past two games. Still USC 7-0.

5:15 1st Q: Deandre Coleman hits Silas Redd in the backfield and Marc Anthony finishes him off. Bears stop USC on 4th-and-1 from the USC 49.

6:40 1st Q: Maynard intercepted by USC’s Jawanza Starling at the USC 40. Bears had five turnovers vs. Trojans a year ago. that’s No. 1.

7:54 1st Q: USC leads 7-0 after 6-play, 71-yard drive capped by 33-yard run by Silas Redd, the Penn State transfer. Total yards: USC 139, Cal 9.

PERSONNEL UPDATE: Neither OT Matt Summers-Gavin nor TE Richard Rodgers played on the Bears’ first possession. Cal goes three-and-out and punts. USC starting at own 29 with 10:43 left.

12:39 1st Q: Steve Williams intercepts pass intended for Robt Woods in the end zone. Cal takes over.

COIN FLIP: USC wins the toss and wants the ball. Cal will kick off. Game-time temp: 88 degrees.

CAPTAINS: Game captains for Cal are Keenan Allen, Josh Hill, Isi Sofele and Marc Anthony.

PERSONNEL UPDATES: Backup DE Keni Kaufusi did not make the trip due to an undisclosed injury. Mustafa Jalil will move into his spot. Robert Mullins is expected to start today over Nick Forbes at ILB. Josh Hill will play the nickel back when Cal goes to a five-DB formation. OT Matt Summers-Gavin and TE Richard Rodgers are on the trip and will be game-time decisions.

WELCOME: Here at the warm and (very) muggy L.A. Coliseum for today’s 3 p.m. kickoff between the Bears (1-2, 0-0 Pac-12) and No. 13 Trojans (2-1, 0-1).

Jeff Faraudo