No. 5 USC pulls away late for 30-20 win over California

Cheryl Sanders
September 25, 2017

The college football odds for the game have the Trojans favored by three possessions to pick up the win here.

The Trojans struggled in their win over Texas, but they showed the moxie of a team ready to compete for a national title.

One USC football fan is already looking forward to star quarterback Sam Darnold's NFL career. If USC does not establish a comfortable lead early on and maintain it for the duration of the game, they may as well deliver the win to Cal on a silver platter.

"I totally understand it", Wilcox said.

The AP voters kept USC at No. 5 for the Week 5 poll, sitting behind No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 4 Penn State.


Freshman running back Stephen Carr learned on Friday he would make his first college start in USC's 30-20 victory over Cal.

Just when the Texas fans felt a possibility, with less than a minute on the clock, the scrappy Trojans fought back to tie the game and create overtime off the legs of rookie kicker Chase McGrath.

A matter of inches turned this game in USC's favor, dispatching a competitive edge the Bears could not regain.

Although quarterback Sam Darnold demonstrated his ability to make big plays when USC needed them most, the Trojans have not been almost as dominant as expected.

Inside linebacker Devante Downs, who leads the Pac-12 in tackles, had 14 tackles, two sacks and an interception as the Bears shut out Ole Miss in the second half and held the Rebels to fewer than 100 yards after halftime. "You can see that team's developing an identity".


The Bears' style appears to be lifted from some other time, as well.

The Bears did do some good things, outgaining USC 416-to-356 and holding the Trojans without a single play of 20 yards or more. Expect Cal to attack or try to exploit any weaknesses the coaching staff identifies because of all shuffling taking place with the Trojans' personnel.

Although there may be questions about how good these teams are this season, there is no uncertainty about which team has had the upper hand in this series. When forecasting the matchup against Cal, it was a no brainer that USC would walk off the field with the win.

Cal does not have someone like Rodgers on its roster this year. Wilcox stuck up for Bowers following the loss to USC, after Bowers completed 22-of-40 passes for 303 yards, threw four interceptions and fumbled twice, losing one. Prior to this, the Trojans had piled up 529 rushing yards in their first two games. Darnold is averaging 306.3 passing yards per game and has thrown nine touchdown passes to seven interceptions.

But the Frogs answered, rallying for consecutive touchdown drives of 75 and 62 yards, capped by a 28-yard Darius Anderson and a 9-yard strike from Kenny Hill to John Diarse.


USC's big-play man is wide receiver Deontay Burnett, who has 24 catches for 386 yards and four TDs. The 6-foot, 170-pound receiver leads the Trojans with five touchdown grabs and is averaging 115.5 receiving yards per game. Wilcox said he wouldn't have an update on Robertson's status until game time but his absence would be big if he can't play.

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