Week 9 Weekend Matchup: University of California, Berkeley at USC Trojans
When: Saturday 10/27, at 7:30 PT on ESPN
Vegas Over/Under: USC -17
Cal and USC both come into this match up with a 4-3 record. USC is 3-2 in Pac-12 play, while Cal is only 2-2 in conference play. USC is looking to extend their winning streak to four coming off a bye, after a big win over Arizona in week 7. It should be noted that Cal is coming off a double overtime win against Oregon.
For USC: USC’s big win at Arizona didn’t come without cost. They lost WR Steven Mitchell Jr. for the season with a torn ACL. He was the 3rd ranked receiver on the team in catches and the 4th in total yards. JuJu Smith–Schuster also sustained a lower back injury and missed the 4th quarter. He is likely to play this week and it will be interesting to see if he is at 100%. Deontay Burnett and Jalen Greene are expected to see increased roles in the offense.
It will be important for Sam Darnold to connect with newer receivers in this game. This will show his team and coaching staff that the Trojans will be able to move forward with a banged up receiving corps. Ronald Jones will also need to run the ball effectively against a Cal defense that has the 3rd worst rushing defense and has given up an average of more than 40 points per game.
The X-factor as always for USC is Adoree Jackson. No team in the Pac-12 has a weapon as powerful as him on defense as well as special teams. If Cal elects to kick the ball to Jackson- look for him in the end zone about 10 seconds later.
For Cal: The “Bear Raid” of Sonny Dykes comes to the Coliseum led by transfer QB Davis Webb. Webb, coming over from Texas Tech, has settled in comfortably to Cal’s version of a pass happy offense. Similar to USC, Cal and Webb face the issue of injuries at the WR position. Cal reception leader Chad Hansen suffered an ankle injury against Oregon State, sat out last week against Oregon, and is questionable for this week. The question becomes if Cal has the depth to compete with a USC defense that has been much improved as of late.
Defensively, Cal will need to make sure Darnold doesn’t get comfortable with his new look receiving corps early. If they can make him uncomfortable early, they will be able to take the crowd out of the game and gain momentum. They will also have to find a way to stop the run, something they haven’t been able to do all season.
Prediction: It will be a long drawn out game, but USC will win and win easily. Score: 45-17.