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USC had their sights set on the National Championship game. After a loss to Stanford, they may not be as good as everyone thought. California surprisingly kept up with Ohio State last weekend and ended up losing by a just a touchdown. Unfortunately, one of their other losses came at home against Nevada and their only win of the season is versus Southern Utah. USC's wins are also less than stellar over Hawaii and Syracuse. The Trojans find themselves favored by 16 at SBG Global and Betonline with a total of 57.
The recent numbers in this meeting are very telling though. USC has beaten California in eight straight meetings, covering six of the past seven games. Over the last three games combined the spread comes out to minus-9.5 for USC. They won by an average of 27 points in all of those games, talk about underrating the Trojans (or maybe overrating the Golden Bears). This time around USC is a little heavier favorite and for good reason as this game is in Los Angeles as well.
Last year, California outgained USC by 16 total yards and still lost by 21 points. The main reason for that were five turnovers, three of them coming from the arm of Zach Maynard. Eliminate the turnovers and that game could've gone down to the wire.
Each team has a very similar lineup to the ones they sported last season. Maynard is at the helm for the Golden Bears. He has thrown for 754 yards and four TDs, but also two interceptions. Keenan Allen who went for 160 last year against USC is Maynard's top target again along with freshman Chris Harper. Running back Isi Sofele is continuing where he left off from last season with 212 yards and a TD. C.J. Anderson is seeing more time as well out of the backfield, maybe to save Sofele's legs for the end of the season. Their offense is very senior oriented and USC has experience with all of them so there should be no surprises.
Stanford's Stepfan Taylor ran all over the Trojans last week for 153 yards which did them in. Sofele only managed 44 yards on the ground last year against USC. If the Golden Bears want to stand a chance, they'll need to control the clock by running the ball more to keep Matt Barkley off the field.
For the most point (excluding parts during the Stanford game), Barkley has been great in the first three games throwing for 813 yards and 10 TDs. His main receiver, Marqise Lee, is a future star and already has 29 receptions for 363 yards and four TDs. Robert Woods is also in the mix with 173 yards and four TDs. On the ground, Penn State transfer Silas Redd has overtaken Curtis McNeal as the lead RB. Redd has 14 more carries, 70 more yards and three more TDs than McNeal. Cali's defense has been shoddy all year and will have plenty of problems against Barkley and company.
USC has not won against the spread yet this season while California is only 1-2 ATS. Something will have to break in this game. As mentioned before, the Trojans have a nice edge in this matchup, going 6-1 ATS in the last seven games. Along with that, the under has hit seven times in the last eight meetings.
Lot's of questions to answer here. Will Cal be able to get sky high two weeks in a row? Did they leave it all on the field at Ohio State? Will the travel, half way across the country and back impact their play and preparation this week? Will USC take out their frustrations after last weeks loss on Cal, a tram they have handled with ease in recent history? Is USC really that good?
The last question, is USC really that good, is the million dollar one. They should be. It's the same team that went 10-2 last year. They certainly haven't looked great other than blowing out Hawaii. They let Syracuse hang around and then last weeks loss against the Luck-less Cardinal. But then, last year they were slow out of the gate, squeaking by Minnesota and Utah in their first two games and losing to Arizona State in their 4th game. Come to think of it, there weren't a whole lot of blowouts last year other than Colorado, Washington and UCLA.
Of course Cal doesn't leave us with a whole lot of confidence. They gave up 31 points to both Southern Utah and Nevada so you know the Trojans will be finding the end zone, often. With that in mind, we'll lean towards the over here, rather than one side or the other. Over 57 but just a lean.
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