USC Football Heads To California For Key Pac-10 Game

Sept. 27, 2009

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It's a key early-October meeting of Top 25 teams as No. 7 USC makes its annual Bay Area trek and visits No. 24/19 California in sold-out Memorial Stadium. Troy has played Cal more than any opponent (this is the 97th meeting). USC has won 5 in row over the Golden Bears (and 7 of the past 8) and generally is successful in its Berkeley games. This is the fourth straight year that both teams enter the game ranked by AP (and the fifth in the past 6 seasons), and the Trojans have fared well against ranked Cal teams. It's just the second night game for USC in Berkeley. And, in another rarity, it's just the second time that USC and crosstown rival UCLA play in the Bay Area on the same day. It's the first of 4 of the Trojans' next 5 games that will be played on the road. USC's Pete Carroll, who is college football's winningest active coach (85.0%), has 33 wins over AP Top 25 teams (including the past 8 tries). USC is coming off a rebound victory over Washington State, while Cal was throttled at Oregon in its Pac-10 opener after winning its first 3 games of 2009. It'll be strength against strength when Cal has the ball, as the game pits the high-octane Bear offense (37 points and 418 yards per game) against the stingy Trojan defense (allowing 10 points and 227 yards)...and, in particular, Bear TB Jahvid Best, one of the top runners in college football, will try his luck against one the nation's top rushing defenses. Opponents have scored just 3 touchdowns against the Trojans in 2009. Both teams rank in the Top 6 nationally in sacks and tackles for losses (with Trojan DE Nick Perry and LB Michael Morgan among the nation's leaders in those respective categories). USC's defense--featuring the likes of 2-time All-American S Taylor Mays, LB Chris Galippo, DE Everson Griffen, DT Jurrell Casey and S-CB Josh Pinkard--is ranked in the national Top 16 in every stat category. On the other side of the ball, USC--which leads the Pac-10 in total offense--benefitted from the return last week of true freshman QB Matt Barkley and the continued effective play of TBs Joe McKnight, Stafon Johnson and Allen Bradford, FB Stanley Havili and WR Damian Williams. Troy's veteran offensive line is led by OG-C Jeff Byers and C Kristofer O'Dowd. USC owns a streak of 7 consecutive Pac-10 titles, AP Top 4 finishes, BCS bowl trips and 11-win seasons. This is the 96th consecutive game the Trojans have been ranked in the AP Top 25, extending their school record. Under head coach Jeff Tedford, California has won its last 9 home games. Besides Best, there's QB Kevin Riley, who throws to the likes of WRs Verran Tucker and Marvin Jones. Key Bear defenders include ILB Mychal Kendricks, (the Pac-10's leading tackler), OLB Mike Mohamed and CB Syd'Quan Thompson, a 2008 All-Pac-10 first teamer. The game will be televised live nationally by ABC-TV. The Trojans and Bears also battle in men's water polo on Saturday in Berkeley.

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