For the first time in many years, it seemed entirely reasonable for self-respecting Cal fans to look at the annual tilt between the Golden Bears and the Trojans and calculate that the playing field was, at long last, level.
I suppose we got what we deserved for being so eager to drink the Kool-Aid.
This game was over pretty much as soon as it got started. The Bears went three-and-out on their first possession, and the Trojans took over on their own 44-yard line. It only took them two minutes and 30 seconds to get into the end zone, scoring on a 16-yard strike from Matt Barkley to the true freshman Robert Woods.
It was to be the first of Barkley’s five touchdowns on the day, which ties a USC record. All five of those scores came in the first two quarters, and USC had a 42-0 lead by halftime.
Don’t worry, that first one is the only one I’m prepared to recap for you.
While Barkley deserves a bulk of the credit, it was also apparent that he has two of the best receivers in the Pac-10 at his side in Woods and senior Ronald Johnson. Both of them hauled in seven passes and scored two touchdowns.
As for Woods, his legend grew for the second straight week. After tying a USC freshman record with 12 receptions against Stanford, he became the first receiver to pile up over 100 receiving yards against the Bears defense this season.
Indeed, as you might have deduced by the final score of 48-14, the Bears defense had what some might call an ‘off day.’ Statistically, the Bears waltzed in the LA Coliseum with the best defense in the Pac-10, and the fifth-best pass defense in the country.
So much for that.
Clancy Pendergast’s squad, which really only had one bad game under their belts, was absolutely helpless in just about every phase of the game.
They couldn’t make a stop on the few occasions the Trojans decided to run the ball, and things were way too easy for Barkley.
They got an early sack on USC’s sophomore quarterback on their second drive, but never got close to him again. Barkley had a pocket the size of a damn Buick every time he dropped back to pass, and it was thus quite easy for him to make throws to beat coverage that actually appeared to be pretty decent.
By the time this one was over, the Trojans had gained 602 yards. That’s enough to make the Nevada game look like a mere Indian burn. And it fairly boggles the mind to consider how many they might have totaled if the Bears offense didn’t give them a short field to play with every time they punted the ball back.
Wait… were the Bears ever even on offense?
*Checks box score*
I’ll be damned, I guess they were. It says here that they gained only 65 yards in the first half, and didn’t get a first down until midway through the second quarter.
It also says here that Riley threw interceptions on two straight pass attempts, one of which was to a defensive lineman. Both of those picks resulted in scores.
All this against a USC team that had the fourth-worst passing defense in the league, and ranked 100th overall in total defense.
Wait a second…the Bears had only 53 yards rushing? They had over 300 last week!
I had better stop reading this. It’s making me depressed. If you really need to know how Cal got those 14 points, just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you with the answer. Fair warning: it’s not very cathartic.
In any case, I think you get the point. If not, here it is: us Cal fans clearly underestimated the Trojans. Again.
In fact, we probably should have paid more attention to those six seconds that gave USC two losses instead of none. I suppose this is why they make the big bucks.
For Cal, the 2010 season officially deserves to don the trappings of all the other Tedford squads. These trappings shows promise, but are ultimately unspectacular.
But then again, maybe all those pundits who picked the Bears to finish seventh in the conference actually knew what they were talking about after all. Ain’t that a kick in the head.
Well, I guess it’s time to play spoiler now. With a bit of luck, maybe the Bears can derail Oregon’s BCS Championship hopes. Okay fine, maybe that will take a lot of luck.
And then there’s the Axe to consider. The Bears have won the last two Big Games, and seven of the last eight. A win in the Big Game is always fine consolation if you ask me.
Moreover, taking home the Axe might ruin Andrew Luck’s Heisman aspirations, which would be a damn fine bonus.
Maybe things aren’t so bad after all. Not that bad anyway.