Friday, September 21, 2012

Week 4: USC vs. California Preview

So what are you made of USC? You weren't the best team in America. No shame in that. Don't fold now though. There is still that PAC-12 championship to win. In the wacky world of college football, there simply is not anything that can be guaranteed. Are we absolutely positive that LSU or Alabama will finish the year undefeated? Will another team from a BCS conference finish undefeated? Win the rest of your games and a shot at a national championship could still potentially be on the horizon. This team is too good and too talented to not turn things around. The offense was an unequivocal disaster last weekend. Matt Barkley's unit did not score a second half point against Stanford. If USC thinks they are as good as their PAC 12 championship expectations, they should be up to their usual tricks against a unfortunate California team. Any chance Cal could play a distracted USC team were thrown out the window thanks to their bitter rival, Stanford. The makeup and character of this Trojan team will be revealed on Saturday.

Why to be Excited?

-Saturday represents a huge what-are-you-made-of game for USC. If you want to see how USC will respond to the early kick in the butt, the game against California will give you an answer. It's not simply the result that matters, but the attitude and commitment to the game.

-Matt Barkley's Heisman trophy campaign probably went out the window after Stanford's victory, but the dude can still light it up. Do not be surprised with a 5 TD effort and a heavy dose of Robquise Woodlee.

-The USC defense was actually quite effective. Sure it had its fair share of problems stopping Stepfan Taylor, but I think if you told Lane Kiffin that his defense held an opponent in any game this year to 21 points, he would have felt great about his chance to win each game this year.

Why to be Grouchy?

-I get it if you're still pissed off from last week. That effort is still a reason to be grouchy.

-Overlooked in a disappointing start for Cal are the weapons it has on offense. Keenan Allen will be a genuine nightmare for Monte Kiffin and Nickell Robey. Zach Maynard doesn't have the greatest arm in the world, but on his best day he is capable of slicing up a college football defense. Isi Sofele is a good back who can churn out the yards.

What to Watch For:

-A grand performance from Matt Barkley. Maybe I'm being unfair, but the kid needs to deliver one of his best games in the Trojan uniform. Anything less will be a disappointment

-An angry USC football team. Go out there and beat down the Bears. Take out your frustrations. Run the score up if you want. You have a pass this week.

-The improving USC defense. Keep the positive momentum going. Yes, Stepfan Taylor and Stanford were able to keep the clock moving with the 200 ground yards, but as mentioned previously the defense only forfeited 21 points.

The Prediction:

This will be ugly from start to finish. The USC defense will fluster Jeff Tedford, Zach Maynard and Keenan Allen. Matt Barkley will find his rhythm and confidence early in this game and surgical precision will ensue. Expect Barkley to be in a giving mood to Lee, Woods, Telfer and Grimble. California does not have the playmakers to make this game interesting. USC rolls.

USC 45, California 21

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