Week 9

USC 45, California 24: What Does It All Mean?


USC looked terrific in a 45-24 blowout over California. What does it all mean?


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USC 45, California 24: What Does It All Mean?

– And there’s the Sam Darnold who’s quickly growing into something special as the new USC quarterbacking superstar. He’s been excellent since taking over the starting gig, and while there might be a few too many fumbles to worry about, he’s been exactly what the program needs as the future to build around. He completed 18-of-25 passes for 231 yards and five scores with a pick, and he took off when needed, once again showing off tremendous speed for a guy his size. Of course, it helped to go against the Cal defense.

– The Bears are depleted on defense, and it showed as they just couldn’t hold up as the game went on. Ronald Jones II was a half-step quicker than everyone, running 18 times for 223 yards with a score with a receiving touchdown, and Aca’Cedric Ware added 130 yards on 20 carries. Throw in the 97 yards and two scores from Darreus Rogers, and the USC offensive was hitting on all cylinders, looking more and more like the best team in the South – with some due respect to the Utah team that beat the Trojans.

– Outside of two weird and hopeless checkdowns in the final moments, instead of throwing it into the end zone, and a key interception, Davis Webb did what he could to keep the Cal offense in the game. The Bears keep on pushing, and with this passing game, why not? There wasn’t the running game of a few weeks ago against Oregon, but the 333 yards and two scores were no match for the rested Trojans.

– And now Cal has to worry a bit. At 4-4, it’s still fine in the hunt for a bowl appearance, but now it has to face Washington, a red-hot Washington State team on the road, Stanford and UCLA – and it’s got to win two of the games to stay alive for a bowl bid. Otherwise, it’s likely 5-7 and hope the APR plays a role somehow. As banged up as the Bear D is, even getting another win is hardly a guarantee.

– USC still has an uphill climb to get to the Pac-12 championship, but it’s playing well enough to have a shot. First, it needs Colorado to lose once more. Second, it needs Utah to lose two of its last four against Washington, at Arizona State, Oregon, and Colorado. And, of course, the Trojans have to win out in the last three conference games. That’s not going to be easy with road games at Washington and UCLA after playing Oregon, but with the way the offense is rolling – 41 points or more in three of the last four games – this is the proverbial team that no one wants to face right now.