It’s the 99th meeting for the two teams in an in-state rivalry that has been increasingly lopsided in recent years – last year’s game at the Coliseum was all USC, with the Trojans up, 42-0, by halftime. Then again, it’s only USC’s second road game of the year, and while they’ve dominated the series lately, it’s no reason to be too confident – their first road game was that horrendous loss to another team that hadn’t won over USC in years: Arizona State.
On paper, the teams match up pretty evenly. USC has a one-two punch at wide receiver in Robert Woods and Marqise Lee; Cal brings their own dangerous duo in Keenan Allen and Marvin Jones. USC’s passing offense is gaining slightly more yards per game, while Cal’s rushing offense just outstrips the Trojans’ (though both teams are pass-first teams this year). Cal is scoring a few more points per game (on average, 34.6 to USC’s 30), while USC’s defense is surrendering fewer points than Cal’s (26.4 for USC, 28 for Cal).
Both teams might be without important pieces of their secondaries. USC cornerback Torin Harris, who started opposite Nickell Robey before injuring his shoulder, might not be ready to go this week. Anthony Brown started in his place against Arizona, but Arizona Western College transfer Isiah Wiley reportedly made significant strides during the bye week and figures to get significant playing time. Harris struggled anyway, so Brown or Wiley could make a case for the permanent job with strong performances starting this week.
Cal’s cornerback Marc Anthony is doubtful for the game and if he doesn’t play, true freshman Stefan McClure will have the daunting task of covering Robert Woods. McClure struggled in his last game when he replaced Anthony, but he said later, “I was playing like I had no arms.” He’ll probably need to play like he has four or five of them to keep up with Woods....................