Cal had lost the prior 14 matchups against USC before winning last year 15-14. USC still has a small chance of winning the Pac-12 so it’s unlikely it will take this matchup lightly coming off last year’s loss. The Trojans were -6.5 point road favorites with an over/under of 48 as of Thursday.
There’s not much to say about last year’s game as neither offense could move the ball, both failing to score in the first and fourth quarters. USC scored 14 points in the second quarter and California had 15 points in the third and that was it. Cal is in the same mold as that team, but USC is almost the opposite, rarely playing much defense.
The Trojans are allowing 4.6 yards per carry and 170.3 rushing yards per contest, which is where Cal will attack. The Golden Bears finally managed to score (and win) last week and that was because of Wazzu’s defense.
There’s a chance they move the ball again after averaging 5.4 yards per carry against the Cougars. On the season, they’re at just 3.4 ypc as a team with running back Christopher Brown at 4.0 ypc.
Quarterback Devon Modster was also competent last game, though is still averaging just 6.1 yards per attempt for five touchdowns and three picks. This isn’t a good offense, but as seen against Wazzu last week, it can move the ball against bad defenses.
The question is how Cal’s defense will play because it’s been solid most of the season, holding teams like Washington, Oregon and Wazzu to 20 points or less. Overall, they’re allowing yards (379.1 per game), but not many points (20.7 ppg).
The Trojans have been able to move the ball on most defenses behind Kedon Slovis, who is averaging 8.3 yards per attempt for 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions. The USC receivers could be the biggest advantage in this game because the trio of Michael Pittman, Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown is as good as they come.
The Trojans could also return running backs Vavae Malepeai and Stephen Carr, who have been battling injuries. Either way, freshman Kenan Christon has been solid leading the back field the last few weeks.
Cal may have lost four-straight games at one point and home contests against Arizona State and Oregon State, but this is far from an easy matchup. The Bears have had a good defense all season and that could keep them around this game, at least enough for a cover. USC is favored, but on the road, it’s not the easiest bet after struggling to move the ball in last year’s meeting.
USC doesn’t have any relevant trends, while Cal has covered its last eight in November, yet has failed to cover its last four following an ATS win. The under is 13-3 in the last 16 meetings between these teams and the Trojans are 6-1 ATS in the last seven played in Berkeley.
Our Pick – Cal +6.5