On a very warm first day of fall before 83,421 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, University of Southern California Trojans defeated the California Golden Bears 27-9 (source - O.C. Register). The USC Trojans might be pronouncing a new style of play in the process.
USC appears to have a new look than what they started the year with. A prolific passing offense led by Heisman hopeful Matt Barkley was to be the key to USC winning games and possible championship. But now it seems the defense and running game, which was almost non-existent until this contest, is primed to lead the Trojans back into title contention. You can go straight to the line of scrimmage for the winners of this gridiron battle.
This was a rebound game for both schools after losing to ranked opponents on the road the previous week - the Cal Bears lost to Ohio State and the USC Trojans were losers to Stanford. Cal's defense was solid if unspectacular heading into this game whereas the USC offense seemed to have lost their identity. Offensively, the Trojans are using a new approach: pound the ball. Certainly against the Bears, USC ran convincingly.
With the Trojans star center back on the field - Khaled Homes (who had been hurt) - the running attack had nearly 300 yards on the ground. Tailback Silas Redd, the transfer from Penn State, had his best game with 7.5 yards per run average and 158 rushing yards with a touchdown for his effort. Also, the other star USC tailback, Curtis McNeal had a good game with 11.5 yards per run average on 10 total carries. That gave the men of Troy two 100 yard rushers in a game for the first time in four years. The Trojan offense had almost twice as much yardage as Cal - 488 to 250.
And that was the other big story of the day: the USC defense. The Bears had a good offense coming into the game, including averaging over 200 yards on the ground. But the Trojan defense allowed only 77 rushing yards for the game. The secondary played right in the face of the Cal receivers all day and were able to get two picks for their hard work. Bear quarterback Zach Maynard was only 18 of 33 for just 173 yards passing. And, Maynard was constantly pressured, with the USC defense garnering seven sacks and numerous hurries on the afternoon.
The Trojan defense kept Cal out of the end zone all day - limiting the Bears to three Vincenzo D'Amato field goals. USC kicker Andre Heidari, who had been injured in the first game of the season and had minor knee surgery, was back kicking field goals, which was a relief I'm sure to head coach Lane Kiffin - he had been purposely not going for field goals attempts much the last two contests. Heidari had successful field goals of 40 and 41 yards.
Receiving was limited
Teams seem intent on not allowing Barkley throw to wide receivers Robert Woods or Marqise Lee. Still, Lee caught 11 passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns against the California Golden Bears, even though Barkley didn't have a scintillating game (he threw two interceptions). By the way, Trojan sophomore star wideout Lee is second in the nation in receiving yards and receptions.
So instead of a big-time throwing game, the offensive line opened holes and ran the ball while the defensive line wreaked havoc on Maynard and the Bear offense.
The Cal Bears are now 1-3 and 0-1 in conference and are seriously in trouble for making a bowl game this season. Much was anticipated for 2012 and some even thought the Bears would be a contender. Now it seems they're just trying to save head coach Jeff Tedford's job. Cal plays their next two games in the completely renovated Memorial Stadium - but they have to battle Arizona State (next Saturday afternoon) and UCLA, both of which are 3-1 currently and improved ball clubs from last season.
The USC Trojans now are 3-1 and 1-1 in conference and get this coming weekend off as they prepare for a Thursday night road game at Utah Utes. This was to be an early showdown for the South Division title but Utah has struggled somewhat this year and just lost big to Arizona State. Still, Salt Lake City will be jumping when USC visits on October 4th.
As far as summarizing this past game (source - Associated Press), Barkley said: "I think it's great the way we bounced back. We shut out what people were saying about us."
And they seem to have trumpeted in a new way of winning … for now.
Sources - University of California, University of Southern California
Daryle lived in Los Angeles Ca. most of his life and has been a longtime fan of USC and the Pac-12, having closely followed the Trojans since he was just a youngster. Fight On!