Football: USC game thread

Click here for my game story. And here for my Cal notebook.

Final score: USC 62, Cal 28. The Bears (1-9, 0-7 Pac-12) now have lost eight in a row, 12 straight to Pac-12 teams and 14 in a row to FBS foes. Goff has moved into second on Cal’s single-season passing yardage list with 3,136 yards. Lawler caught two more TD passes, giving him five the past two weeks. The Bears had a season-high 195 rushing yards. USC (7-3, 4-2) are now bowl eligible.

End of third quarter: USC 55, Cal 21. Trojans going through the motions now, having pulled starting QB Kessler with 8:49 left. Allen also presumably done for the day: seven offensive touches, 192 yards. Goff has moved past Longshore into second on Cal’s single-season yardage list. Noah Beito, a redshirt freshman backup placekicker, has taken over the punting duties for Cal. The Bears have allowed 440 points this season — most ever in school history.

Halftime: USC 41, Cal 14. Well, not much happened there, right? Bears had momentum for precisely 39 seconds after Goff’s 4-yard TD pass to Kenny Lawler, then 24-yard flea-flicker TD pass to Darius Powe. That made it 21-14 with 9:41 left in half. But within span of 39 seconds USC scored twice — on 47-yard TD pass from Kessler to Allen, then 14-yard return by Josh Shaw after bocked punt. And it was 35-14 with 6:43 left.  Agholor later returned another punt 93 yards for a TD and a 41-14 lead. Cal may NEVER punt again. Not just today, either. Agholor became the first USC player to return two punts for TDs in the same game since Heisman Trophy winner Mike Garrett did it — against Cal — in 1965. Cal now has allowed five punt returns for TDs this season, a stunning total.

A few halftime stats, as if they matter at this point: Goff  is 19 for 28 for 130 yards and two TDs. He has become just the third Cal QB with 3,000 passing yards in a season and needs 11 more to move past Nate Longshore (2006) into second on Cal’s single-season list. USC actually only has a 243-204 edge in offensive yards, but that doesn’t include those 182 yards of punt returns for three TDs.

First quarter: USC leads 21-0. Nelson Agholor’s 75-yard punt return gave USC a 7-0 lead before the offense ever took the field. Then Trojans marched 79 yards for a TD, with Cody Kessler passing 12 yards to RB Silas Redd to make it 14-0. Bears looking lifeless today, except when they want to commit major penalties — two personal fouls and an unsportsmanlike conduct already . . . with 5 minutes to go in qtr. Javorious Allen’s 43-yard TD run — with two missed tackles by the Bears — made it 21-0. Cal has been outscored 157-41 in the first quarter this season and still hasn’t held a lead vs. USC since 2007.

WELCOME: Here at Memorial Stadium for the last time this season as the Bears (1-8, 0-6 Pac-12) take on USC (6-3, 3-2) in the annual Joe Roth Game.

The Bears are hoping to aviod making the wrong kind of history today: Only twice since Cal began playing football in 1886 has it completed a home schedule without a victory over an FBS (Division I) opponent: 1959 & 2001.

A variety of ignominious streaks Cal would like to end: a 7-game losing streak, 11 straight to Pac-12 foes, 13 in a row to FBS opponents.

Jeff Faraudo

  • 707 Bear

    Back from Memorial with a few thoughts….

    1. There was “red” throughout the stadium—in all sections. This tells me the most loyal fans—season ticket holders–are selling their tickets rather than support the team on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Not good.

    2. The ESP section was nowhere close to being full. Not good for paying the bill on the new Memorial.

    3. The SC band never—and I mean never—stops playing. I think our band has been told not to play during the numerous introductions and commercials. SC just plays and plays and plays. Still, the stadium experience is better when both teams have bands, cheerleaders, etc.

    4. Speaking of commercials…an all-time low. A poor UPS driver was forced to run off the field after delivering the official game ball. The PA announcer then asked the crowd to give him a round of applause. Poor guy, he couldn’t get off the field fast enough. Up next, the official sponsor of Cal’s first time-out is ……..

    5. Who knew the highlight of the 2013 home season would be the first drive of the first game.

  • Ray Finkle

    I remember being at the beaver game when we were #2 and set to be #1….things change in all aspects of life in a blink of an eye. Beating COL would be huge for our program at this point. I truly believe that. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true.

  • Steve W

    If you want a preview of how Cal will be next season, look at how Washington State is doing this year. Improved?…..sure. A few more wins?….maybe. Good enough to compete with the upper echelon teams?…..make me laugh. Unless Cal can find a premier mobile quarterback who is a read option threat to run every time he has the ball, Sonny is doomed with that offense. Three seasons and fired doomed.

  • 707 Bear


    I agree with your high water mark in recent Cal history.

    Question for the blog: Was today a low water mark? Perhaps next week in Boulder we’ll start digging out.

    For me, the previous low water mark was the 2001 loss to USC at home in the rain. That day was also senior day.

  • Juancho

    If we lose next week to macintyre that will be the low for me.

  • Juancho

    Let’s take a look at the Briles topic by seeing what the newest Pac 12 coaches have done. Since we need Dykes to do well in this conference.

    Mike Leach at Washington State. The year before he arrived, they won 4 games. His first year, 3-9, so far in year two, 4-5. In year two Wazzu beat USC, Southern Utah, Idaho, and Cal. Two conference teams so far. In year one, Eastern Washington, UNLV, and Washington. One conference game.

    Some improvement so far. But nothing to close the gap between the haves and have nots. So that’s example one.

    So far in year two, Jim Mora Jr. has turned UCLA into a premiere program, and they are at the doorstep of becomming one of the “haves” in the conference. In year two they are 7-2 so far. With wins over Arizona, Nevada, Nebraska, New Mexico State, Utah, Cal, and Colorado. In year one, Mora took the Bruins to 9-5. The year before he showed up, UCLA won 6. In his first year they beat, Rice, Nebraska, Houston, Colorado, Utah, Arizona State, Arizona, Washington State, USC.

    Todd Graham at ASU. The year before he came, they also won 6. In year one under Graham, they won 8. Northern Arizona, Illinois, Utah, Cal, Colorado, Washington State, Arizona, Navy. In year two so far they are 7-1. Like UCLA knocking at the door of the haves in the conference. They’ve whipped everyone’s butt except Stanford.

    Rich Rod at Arizona. Before he showed up, they won 4 games that prior year. In his first year, they won 8. Toledo, Oklahoma State, South Carolina State, Washington, USC, Colorado, Utah, Nevada. In year two, so far they’re 6-3, with wins over Northern Arizona, UNLV, UTSA, Utah, Colorado, Cal.

  • Juancho

    Their recruiting:

    UCLA’s first class was ranked #12 in the country. Arizona State had #43. Arizona #46. Wazzu #50.

    Year two of recruiting:

    UCLA had the #3 ranked class in the country. Arizona #27. Arizona State #30. Washington State #38.

    Learnings. The cream of the new guys is the one who could recruit tops right off the bat. And who had the #3 class in year two. Of course you all remember we “almost” had the #3 class in the country until Tosh Gate.

    Dykes so far in year one has a class currently ranked at #58.

  • Juancho

    Last year we won 3 games. So who knows where we are going in the future. But I wanted to share some insight on new PAC 12 coaches and their immediate impact or lack thereof.

  • Juancho

    To provide some context for that #58. Here are how the others currently have their classes rate for this recruiting cycle that finalizes in February.

    Arizona #10
    Stanford #22
    Arizona State #26
    UCLA #36
    Oregon #39
    Washington #44
    Wazzu #52
    Oregon State #53
    USC #59
    Utah #63
    Colorado #65

  • Juancho

    The fact that UCLA has had 15 true freshman play this year really speaks to the extreme value a #3 recruiting class in the country provides.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    Bad play on the field but even worse performance in the classrooms = Cal state Berkley football team

  • Bobsac

    So glad we gave our tickets away– to Cal fans.– so we did not profit by making them available to USC fans.
    I have thought of something neutral to say about the team Sonny has produced this year. The team is consistent.

  • Gobears49

    Watched part of the game yesterday.

    My two cents worth —

    1. The first coach that should be fired is the special teams coach. I think, in the last punt return for a touchdown, the first Cal guy down was flying straight toward the returner, and was about ten yards away from him when he caught the punt. He was easily sidestepped by the returner. If a coach can’t coach a guy to play somewhat defensive, to slow the returner down and force him to one side or the other to get around the defender, then he does not know his job as a coach.

    I bet you won’t find more than two or three times this year, in a D1 game, that a team returned three or more punts for touchdowns. Just shows very poor coaching.

    2. Cal easily has the best set of receivers in years and I am starting to like their running backs, although compared to USC’s talent we are far behind in that area. Lawler looks to be a sure pro and Harper and Treggs are not far behind. Cal is primarily losing the battle in the trenches plus being really thin, overall, on defense.

    The comments above about recruiting are very enlightening. Shows how good recruiting translates into good performance. If Dykes does not pick up his recruiting results, our chances to really improve next year are not good.

    Finally, I was dismayed that Goff slid on second down, after gaining about eight yards, making it third and two. He should be coached to try to get a first down if he is close to getting it. Bet Rebenzer, our incoming freshman QB, wouldn’t do that. Looking forward to see how he will do next year. It would really help our offense if we got a guy who could run the read option well, and really run. That would make the defense’s job to defend us much tougher. Rebenzer could be that guy. But that player needs to be an excellent passer, too, and I’m not sure Rebenzer can do that. I don’t think Goff has the skills to run the read-option.

  • Easy Ed

    Hey Moron! How come you couldn’t get into “Cal State Berkeley”?

  • Woj

    Today’s prime example of what Dykes supporters are saying after the latest rout and debacle loss:
    wehofx Says:
    November 9th, 2013 at 6:16 pm
    woj = moron = coward = punk

    Note woehoe doesn’t cite anything from the ugly game. He trots out his lame ultra lame polyanna I hope this comes true comparison of Stormy Dykes to the absolute best case scenario – Art Briles success at Baylor. Desparation is all this is.

    Hey woehoe – how did Teevens do after a better year1 than Stormy will have? Look it up – in years 2 and 3 at Stanford, his team was mediocre and worse and he was canned.

    Same goes for Harris .. a bad first year was matched by a lousy 2nd and 3rd and he was gone.

    That’s Stormy’s and Cal’s 2014 likely future and there is no basis to trot out Baylor’s recent success as anything other than a hope and a prayer.

    The best thing for Cal is to terminate Barbour and Dykes in a package deal, call 1 cab for both to get them off campus and start over. Hire Bob Ladoceur from De La Salle for ’14 and ’15 if you need to pinch pennies as you pay off Tedfraud’s and Stormy’s egregious contracts.

    Here’s what the national media is saying about Cal – totally insulting but spot on true.

    …Over the next few weeks, the Cardinal still have games remaining against USC (7-3), California (1-9) and Notre Dame (7-3), plus a potential Pac-12 Championship Game against likely Arizona State (7-2) or UCLA (7-2). ….. The matchup against Cal will put a dent in the resume….

    So even PLAYING Cal is a resume killer for an elite team. Never-mind the the fact Stanford will crush Cal (I think by 35), even playing the Golden Doormats is hurting their BCS chances. LOL!

  • Woj

    @Juancho Says:
    November 10th, 2013 at 12:54 am

    Last year we won 3 games. So who knows where we are going in the future.

    Who’s WE?? Are you suiting up in blue and gold and getting torched on defense every Saturday Juancho?

    No WE for me at all. My saving grace is that I didn’t go to Cal personally which allows me to see the problems clearly. I did however inherit a rooting interest for this school through multiple family alumni. I want Cal to do well but that process starts with a new AD and new football HC. Montgomery is a prime example – he gets the most annually from his players and is an excellent HC. Football wise, for 30+ years of following the team I’ve received exactly 0 BCS bowl games and plenty of mediocre seasons interrupted by the occasional utter trainwreck (2001 and 2013). A lot of that is bad coaching.

  • SteveNTexas

    woj If you didn’t go to Cal personally why do you care so much? Did you get a GED perhaps at an Adult Education Class taught by a Cal Student?
    If Dykes can recruit then I would give him the benefit of the the doubt and another year. Its sort of a double or nothing deal – if he can’t get us top 35 or so class then toss both him and Sandy next year.
    It’s ironic that not only does Indiana a non football school have a better team than Cal, but IU also has two better QB’s including Soph Nate Suddfield stolen out of Cal’s backyard ( Modesto).

  • Larry

    All the negatives have been covered already. Now for some positives:

    1. Lawler is good and will only get better.
    2. Coprich gives us a little ‘pop’ with his effort
    3. #89 Anderson is showing skills and effort. He is the only WR that consistently blocks for others.
    4. No turnovers by Cal this game.
    5. Puka Lupa is improving and should be a factor on D.
    6. #14 Walker FR,will have experience and seems solid.
    7. Our long snapper is solid/consistent,will return.
    8. Bigalow won’t leave for the NFL after his Jr yr.
    9. Fortt will be back next year.

  • wehofx

    Juancho, excellent posts. mostly agree. esp benefits of ulca’s 3rd ranked class.

    ucla plays an all true frosh D rotation w Vanderoes, Fitts and ??? that is already on the verge of becoming a force. (ya, I know, not to mention soph e McCarthy.) I’m guessing by the time they get to pac championship and bowl, they will be a force.

    for the next year or 2, it’ll be tough for us to crack top 20. unless, SD and co prove to be on a par w mora. mora was really smart to hire klemm and d martin as coaches. they’re both great recruiters w long established ties to ca hs fb.

    Myles Jack is a freak of nature. Amazing! ucla could have a dominant sec type D next year.

    the stat I found most interesting/relevant is:
    Wazzu #52
    Oregon State #53
    USC #59
    Utah #63
    Colorado #65

    osu is going bowling, again – after rebounding from d3 loss. wazzu and, esp, utah are both programs on the rise. all 3 are doing it w 2 and 3 stars. If sd and co are astute talent evaluators like the above staffs, in 2 years, we can make the next jump back to top 20 recruiting classes.

    If they’re not the evaluators I think they are, they’ll be looking for jobs come Dec, ’15.

    Larry, I’d add Barton, Borrayo, Hunter, and Dozier – it was great to finally see a db look back and make a play on the ball. Don’t know why it took so for him to get the start.

    2 – former nfl lb’s – possible dc’s: jeff ulbrich. ken norton.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    You losers can’t even recruit one player out of Sac

    This season, scholarship commit players to receive invitations include: Cosumnes Oaks receiver Alex Van Dyke (UCLA) and tackle Kameron Schroeder (Duke); Capital Christian lineman Nifae Lealao (Stanford); Burbank running back Calvin Green and defensive tackle Ngalu Tapa (both to Washington State); Granite Bay tight end Dylan Keeney (Colorado) and Inderkum defensive back Jordan Thomas (Arizona State).

  • Reflecting after yesterday and after reading Mahler’s story about ex-coach Mike Rice of Rutgers, who self-imploded as a coach. It’s in the Sunday NYTimes Mag. Mahler talks about coaches whose livelihoods and self-images are tied to the performance of a bunch of 17-22 yr old adolescent kids. Perhaps the same thing can be said for fans who call for the heads of coaches who can’t get those kids to perform. As to the coach’s mental challenge, Mahler sums it up as follows: “the trick is to be able to drive down your own demons, to contain your frustrations, and, more generally, to balance anger and disappointment with love and encouragement.” Don’t know how many of you have parented those adolescent kids (I’ve got 2), but finding the referenced balance is indeed the challenge. Maybe as fans we need to do a bit more of that searching as well. I have no doubt Dykes (and Buh too) are right in the middle of playing with that balance right now. I could afford to walk out yesterday after the 1st qtr and have a better day doing something else that gave me a smile. Dikes/Buh committed (and are paid) not to do that. The lessons these kids learn from days like yesterday are in no small part in the hands of their coaches, their friends, family and all of us “fans.” From most of the posting on this board, I don’t think we are holding up our end. Read about Rice and ask yourself how far from him your are as a fan and critic of the team (including the coaches) and how far you want to be. Obsessing over recruiting rankings of 17 year-old kids is beyond foolish in the context of an ordinary life. Since I have somehow found myself sucked into this vortex by association as reflected by my more frequent posting of recent, I guess I need to heed my own comments above as well.

  • 707 Bear


    I appreciate the high brow post.

    Most of us would feel “some” joy if Cal could make it to the Rose Bowl. Doesn’t it follow that “some” unhappiness should follow a season like this.

    I don’t see anyone trashing individual student-athletes on this blog and I haven’t heard anyone booing at Memorial.

    I understand there is a fine line between enthusiasm and obsession, but I don’t see obsession on this blog or in the stands at Memorial.

    Keep the faith.

  • Steve W

    Just looked at the 2014 schedule, and I am thinking a much improved Cal team next year might not have a much improved record. The sure win is against Sacramento State, but a non conference schedule that includes an away game at Northwestern and a home game late in the season against BYU does not look promising. Within the conference, USC and UCLA should be monsters next year with Oregon the usual 30-point-loss stumbling block. Cal has to play at Washington State in the third year of Mike Leach’s tenure, so that game doesn’t look real good from where I’m sitting. It also has to play at Oregon State where it hasn’t won since 2004. Pencil in a loss there, too. I think the best chance for conference wins next year are home games against Washington and Stanford. Washington loses Price and Sankey from its offense, while Stanford has a lot of seniors moving on from that stud defense. A 3-9 record won’t make Cal fans too happy, but some closer losses and a few more wins would be a big step for this program.

  • SteveNTexas

    Steve W – Are you already making excuses for next year? Nice spin – is Dykes paying you?

  • Bobsac

    Steve W- The Sacramento State Hornets are not a sure win for Sonny’s team next year. The Hornets beat Oregon State on the road in 2011 & Colorado on the road in 2012. And though Sonny’s team managed to beat Portland State this year, that was a game that could have been lost. My guess is the Hornets will come in on fire with the coaches giving them the history of all the attention UC Davis got a few years ago when the Aggies went down to Palo Alto and beat Stanford. I would agree with a modified statement that the Hornets are Sonny’s best chance for a win next year.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    Buddy Teevans > Sonny Dykes

    In 3 years Dykes will still be coaching losing teams getting beat by 30-40 points. The Pac 12 coaches hold him in disdain for bringing such embarrassment to the conference.

  • Steve W

    S in Texas,

    Not on anyone’s payroll and not a huge Dykes guy. Just a realist. Why don’t you give us your “non spin” prognosis? I would love to hear it.

  • Woj

    Wasn’t Cal 3-9 last year and didn’t that get Tedfraud fired and Stormy Dykes on board.

    Now we’ve got Cal fans saying ….”A 3-9 record in 2014 won’t make Cal fans too happy, but some closer losses and a few more wins would be a big step for this program.”

    This sounds like Obama defining ‘Jobs Saved’ in the same light as ‘Jobs created’ to save his hiney in 2012 election cycle and the lamestream media buying that garbage.

  • Bobsac

    Woj–to have a politically fair & balanced site, whatever the problems of Barack Obama, he didn’t actually start a war–Iraq 2003– killing several thousand of our soldiers & Marines, wounding tens of thousands of them, & killing several hundred thousand Iraqis based on the lie of (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction. And what you call the lamestream media bought that garbage.
    Back to football, I think we agree that Sonny has produced a horrifyingly awful season giving no hint of a better future.