Cal vs. USC prediction roundtable with the Campus Insiders staff. Breaking down what will happen in Thursday night’s Pac-12 battle between the Golden Bears and Trojans.
Give me USC. Last week, Cal made Justin Herbert look like the second coming of Dan Fouts. Guess that makes Sam Darnold the new Matt Leinart. The Trojans continue their uptick against the Golden Bears’ feckless defense, and you, good friends, should take the over.
Yeah, I totally don’t trust the 70.5 over/under for this one, and that’s saying a lot. Sam Darnold has ponied up and started slingin’ the ball like nobody’s business. To be fair, Davis Webb has been throwing darts, too. But Chad Hansen is a little dinged up, as is JuJu Smith-Schuster, though the latter has picked up the pace thanks to Darnold. They’re a pretty dangerous duo, and — assuming Smith-Schuster plays — they’re going to lead the Trojans past the Golden Bears. Even if USC’s star receiver is out, Darnold will throw for 400 yards and a handful of touchdowns against a weak Cal secondary.
Expect plenty of points in this one, as both teams are being led by prolific quarterbacks. Sam Darnold has been exceptional since being inserted as the starter, while Davis Webb was made for wild Pac-12 shootouts. We don’t know how effective JuJu Smith-Schuster and Chad Hansen will be because of injuries, but the Golden Bears have been unable to win two in a row thus far. Clay Helton’s in-season turnaround continues because of a late Cal turnover by Webb in a Trojans win.
Clay Helton is being lauded for bringing the Trojans back from a 1-3 record with three straight wins over Arizona State, Colorado, and Arizona. Excuse me if I’m not exactly impressed. That’s three teams that USC should be able to beat blindfolded. Alas, the narrative has to be that Helton has gotten this team back on track. We will see how appropriate that is when the Trojans play Washington in a few weeks. As for this game, Cal’s defense couldn’t stop a middle school team running the Wing-T. The Trojans win again and will probably get ranked based on name alone.