Stanford's defense gave USC QB Matt Barkley fits last Saturday. Can Cal's defense do the same on Saturday?
When your intrepid CGB Marshawnthusiasts, Jahvidticians, Folletarians, and Hit Squadders sat around the preseason roundtable to assess Cal's chances against USC this season, not many of us had a very positive outlook on the Bears' visit to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. That's what eight straight losses to the Trojans will do to your psyche as a Cal fan.
But how do we feel now, after last weekend's madness? Cal went to Ohio State and went toe-to-toe with the Buckeyes, dropping a 35-28 heartbreaker that you can legitimately say Cal should have won. As for the Trojans, they went to Palo Alto and suffered a 21-14 defeat at the hands of the
Great Satan Stanford Cardinal, USC's fourth straight loss to the Tree. Considering this turn of events last Saturday, we ask: how much does the Cal effort against Ohio State encourage or discourage you against USC and why? How much does the Furd upset of USC encourage or discourage you against USC and why?
TwistNHook: I don't have a lot of hope against USC. I'm sorry to say, but I just don't. I've seen Cal teams go into the Coliseum and struggle down there. We haven't beaten them since 2003. I'm not trying to be unduly negative here, it's just a situation of "I'll believe it when I see it. And until I see it, I'm struggle to believe it." I'm happy that Stanford showed USC is overrated. I've been saying that for a while now. But, of course, now I fear that USC will come out FIRED UP and be even tougher than usual. I don't know what it is against USC. Last year, I thought they were eminently beateable, but we just shot ourselves in the foot and couldn't pull it off.
unclesam22: The effort definitely encourages me because we now know that this team can perform at a level where they can compete with the best in the nation, even on the road. All of the things the really distressed me about the first two games (penalties, lack of concentration and preparation, poor play calling etc) seem to have worked themselves out, so hopefully this team has turned a corner and continues in the right direction. On the other hand, the furd upset of USC totally discourages me for a few reasons. #1 is because I wanted us to be the ones to beat them, #2 is because that game will probably serve as a wake-up call for them, and #3 is because now USC will probably be pissed and will take it out on us next week. They always seem to be able to solve whatever it is that ails them against us, so I'm definitely discouraged by their loss.
(So one is encouraged and one is not. How do the rest of your CGB writers and mods feel? Read more after the jump.)
Vincent S: Our efforts against Ohio State made me confident that we could hang with USC. Then USC lost to Stanford. Quote USC Linebacker Anthony Sarao: "I feel sorry for the team we're going to play next week."
Ohio Bear: The effort against OSU encourages me only a little bit. USC is still USC and Cal has had no success against them for a long time. The performance against OSU makes me think that Cal has a chance to be competitive, but given the recent history of the series with the Trojans, I have to take a wait-and-see approach and see us be competitive against USC before I will be encouraged.
As for the impact of Furd's upset of SC on my thinking: none. Because at the end of the day, I just didn't really care what happened in that game and I am unwilling to expend mental energy on figuring out how I feel about it.
Berkelium97: I was moderately encouraged following the Ohio State game. We showed execution that was sorely lacking in the first two games. It was nice to see the team play at that level and I am confident they can play like that again this season. Will they play like that against USC? I have no idea. But I am now more confident that we can put in a good performance this week.
The Stanford game played a much bigger role in shaping my thoughts on this week's game. If Khaled Holmes misses another game, I like our chances at blowing up the O-line and getting pressure on Barkley. USC's center could not block anything and Stanford consistently attacked the middle of the line. I think we have the talent to put up a similar performance. Blood is in the water--a huge weakness has been exposed and I would like to see us exploit that relentlessly.
atomsareenough: I really don't want to see us get blown out against the Trojans. After seeing this game, I am convinced that we're a better team than that. If we play with the same poise and determination this week that we did against the Buckeyes, we can definitely win. I'm not sure Ohio State is a top ten team, but they're certainly talented and are a quality opponent. So the fact that we outplayed them in Ohio gives me hope that this team is coming together. We'll see, though. The USC loss against Stanford was highly encouraging as well. Barkley looked human, their O-line looked vulnerable (though maybe if they get their starting center back this week, they won't be quite so vulnerable), both of their tailbacks had to sit for stretches due to some small injuries, which probably enabled the Cardinal secondary to limit the damage from their talented receivers. I think that Stanford proved definitively that the Trojans are beatable. I'm not quite convinced that Stanford is all that great (this is a team that barely squeaked by San Jose State, remember), so we should be able to hold our own. I think the Trojans are thin, dinged up, and potentially vulnerable. So, let's take it to them. We all desperately want a win against these guys, and this is a great opportunity to get one.
norcalnick: I'm going to go out on a limb here: If Cal goes down to L.A. and plays with the exact same level of effort and execution, they win. USC just isn't good enough right now (unless they suddenly get healthy) to beat a good team playing at or near their best.
But Cal hasn't played even close to the peak of their abilities against USC for 8 years. So yeah.
(What do you think CGB? What's your emotional state coming into this Saturday's game? Share your thoughts in the comments.)