After an upset loss to Stanford last week, the USC Trojans need to get back on the right track as they host the California Golden Bears.
The Trojans put themselves in a tough position in the national-title race by losing to a conference rival early in the season. Fortunately, there is plenty of time to right the ship.
Cal is also coming off a loss, although it was not as devastating. The Golden Bears traveled to Ohio State and forced the No. 12 team in the country to throw a late touchdown to win by seven.
These teams are ready to give it their all to redeem last week's losses. Here is all of the information you need for this conference battle.
Where: Los Angeles Coliseum, Los Angeles
When: September 22, 6 p.m. ET
Watch: Pac-12 Network
Spread: USC (-16), According to Vegas Insider
There is no denying that USC is the more talented team in this matchup. If the Trojans play to their capability, the game should be a blowout.
Southern Cal also returns home after a road game and a cross-country "neutral" game. This familiarity should boost the team to play like old times and cover the spread.
Over/Under: 58.5, According to Vegas Insider
The Trojans have been decent defensively but have still allowed 50 points in the last two games combined. Meanwhile, Cal has not stopped its opponent from going over 30 in any of its three games this season.
Although this is a very high line, these teams have the offenses to cross that mark in the third quarter.
California Injuries (via USA Today)
TE Richard Rodgers (Ankle) Questionable
LB Khairi Fortt (Knee) Questionable
OL Matt Summers-Gavin (Knee) Doubtful
USC Injuries (via USA Today)
CB Brian Baucham (Concussion) Questionable
C Abe Markowitz (Arm) Questionable
C Khaled Holmes (Leg) Questionable
TE Christian Thomas (Hip) Questionable
PK Andre Heidari (Knee) Out
RB D.J. Morgan (Knee) Out
USC took a huge drop in the rankings after its loss to Stanford, but the road to redemption must start now. Many one-loss teams have reached BCS championship games in the past. Although the Trojans are currently ranked No. 12 in the coaches' poll, they can run the table and get back into the title hunt.
California would likely earn some votes if they pull the upset, but a 2-2 team is still unlikely to reach either of the Top 25 polls without a few more big wins.
Keys to California Victory: Stopping the Run
In both of the team's losses this season, the Bears struggled to defend the run. Ohio State was able to rush for 163 yards, while Nevada totaled 220 yards on the ground. Both of these squads have mobile quarterbacks, but the running backs were able to do damage as well.
One reason USC struggled against Stanford is that it could not get the run game going. Silas Redd was held to 17 yards on 13 carries. Including sacks, the team officially had only 26 total yards rushing.
If Cal can come close to replicating this number, it has the ability to pull the upset.
Key to USC Victory: Avoiding Mistakes
Southern Cal is one of those teams that needs to beat itself for another team to come out victorious.
Against Stanford, the team had three turnovers, including two Matt Barkley interceptions. This type of stat line will not win too many games.
In addition, it is unknown whether freshman kicker Alex Wood can even make a field goal, as he has not attempted one in two games since taking over for the injured Andre Heidari. The last thing the team needs is the youngster making his first try with the game on the line.
Prediction: USC 41, Cal 21
There are some players on California who have big-play talent, including Brendan Bigelow, who showed he can be a force if given the opportunity. Unfortunately, USC has a roster full of that type of player on both sides of the football and on special teams.
The Trojans should get back on track with a home win before going back on the road for the next two weeks.
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