College Football Pick
USC is unranked and had a miserable start to the season, losing three of its first Four Games, but the Trojans can’t be taken lightly right now. They’ve won three straight, are coming off a week of rest, and get two winnable home Games next. Things haven’t been as great for California since beating Texas over a month ago. The Golden Bears have struggled on the road, losing all three of their trips away from home. In addition, while USC gets a week of rest before this contest, Cal had a night Game against Oregon on Saturday.
When these teams met last year, it was a little more defensive than projected with USC winning 27-21 on the road. The Trojans rode their running backs and that was a main reason the Game went by so quickly as they limited the time that Jared Goff was on the field.
This time around, it’s hard to see that being the case because for starters, Cal hasn’t held an opponent on the road to less than 45 points. As for the Trojans, the biggest turnaround for them from the first half of the season has been Sam Darnold at quarterback, who took over for Max Browne Four Games in. After starting with a loss at Utah, Darnold has gone the last three Games with 11 passing touchdowns to just one interception.
Darnold has been everything for the offense, completing 66.7% of his passes on the year and throwing for 350-plus yards in two of his Four starts. To go along with that, top wide out JuJu Smith-SChuster is coming around with Darnold, reaching 98 yards in the last Four Games to go with two different instances of three touchdowns. It wouldn’t be surprising if Darnold and Smith-SChuster combined for another big outing with Smith-SChuster having one of his best Games of the season.
Of course, USC will still want to get that ground Game going and that should work fine, whether it’s Justin Davis who missed last Game, or Ronald Jones and Aca’Cedric Ware.
But the other side of the field is what will determine who covers and if this Game hits the over or not. While the Golden Bears are giving up a ton of points, they’re also scoring a bunch, having reached 40 points in all but one Game (28-23 win vs. Utah).
The Trojans have been suspect on defense and it’s still a question of how good they are. They struggled against Stanford and Utah on the road, and then in their last three wins, mostly faced backup quarterbacks because of injury pre-Game or in-Game to the starters.
Cal quarterback Davis Webb picked up a hand injury a couple weeks ago and is of concern, but this offense has shown it can Scoreon anyone. The main showing was when Webb tossed for 300 yards and Four touchdowns against a stout Utah defense. It wouldn’t be surprising if he reached those totals again, but even then it probably won’t be enough. If USC gets out to an early lead, it’s doubtful Cal will try and run much behind its trio of running backs.
The Trojans haven’t allowed many points as of late, but as long as Webb is healthy, the Golden Bears should Scoreat least 30 as long as USC doesn’t eat the clock with its running Game, similar to last season.
Predicted Score- USC 52 Cal 28