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PAC 10 Primetime Showdown - USC at Cal

Betting line - Prediction - Analysis

10/3/09

How the mighty have fallen. Once contenders for the BCS Championship, it looks like California and USC are already out of that picture. USC lost two weeks ago to the lowly Washington Huskies after downing the beast that is Ohio State in Columbus, OH. California and Heisman candidate Jahvid Best were completely shut down last week by the Oregon Ducks. Both teams badly need a win not just nationally speaking, but also because this is a conference game. The winner is likely to be the one that takes down the Pac-10 this year. Will USC or California rise to the occasion? SBG Global has USC currently as a -4.5 favorite with a total of 46.5.

USC couldnít have asked for a better start to the season, minus that loss to Washington. They stomped San Jose State 56-3 to start the year, and then took on Ohio State at the Horseshoe. Freshman QB Matt Barkley led his team on a game winning drive, but was unable to play the following week against Washington. That is where the bad news started. It seems like after a big win, USC is very susceptible to dropping a game to a bum. They did just that when they let Washington beat them. USC shouldíve been in cruise control until the BCS Championship, but blew it with a loss in that game. They need a win here against California to get things rolling again.

Matt Barkley looked strong in his return last week, passing for 247 yards and 2 TDs. The freshman completed 13 of 22 passes. His best target of the day was WR Damian Williams, who picked up 100 yards and a TD. The running game picked up 156 total yards, and RB Joe McKnight was able to find the end zone. Although they won by a safe margin, they came nowhere close to covering the spread. I expected them to let off some pressure and steamroll Washington State. Perhaps USC isnít as good as we all think they are? Iíll hold judgment on that statement until after this weekís game.

The California Golden Bears were rocking until last week. They opened the year with a dominating win over the Maryland Terrapins, and then crushed Eastern Washington. A trip to Minnesota proved no problem for California, as they won 35-21. RB Jahvid Best had a whopping 5 TDs in that game. Unfortunately thatís where all the good stops. They dropped the ball in their next game.

California is barely clinging to a Top 25 ranking after losing last week to Oregon by a score of 42-3. They were dominated in every way by a team that had lost its best player at the start of the year. Hailed by many as a candidate for Heisman Trophy, Jahvid Best had a mere 55 yards on 16 carries. If he plays anything like that this week then USC will have already won. The offense had just 202 total yards, but the defense was equally as bad. They allowed the Ducks to rack up 524 yards of total offense, giving up 3 TDs passes to their QB Masoli. If that same team shows up this week then USC will be on their way to an easy win; but donít count on that happening. California has showed us in the past that they are a good team capable of winning big football games.

This one gets the 8pm prime time spot on ABC this week. Can you imagine how executives at ABC felt watching the scoreboard last week as Cal was getting obliterated? Certainly when the scheduled this one they felt they'd have two undefeated teams squaring off. Oh well. A case can be made here to suggest that Cal was looking ahead to this game against USC. Certainly, they aren't as bad as they looked last week. USC though, probably much better than they have looked the last few weeks.

The normal knee jerk reaction by bettors would be to load up against Cal this week based on last weeks performance, but that hasn't happened. This line opened USC -6 and has been bet down to as low as -4 in some spots. We're going to agree with that move and call for the upset here. We'd much rather have +6 but will take the available +4.5 as of this writing. California +4.5

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