10. Axe Axe Axe. Jeff Tedford has never swept the California schools (going 2-1 most of the time, 1-2 and 0-3 once). With a win over the Trojans, Tedford is guaranteeing that we will lose the Big Game, and watch Andrew Luck and Jim Harbaugh parading
in a sea of red with the Cardinal fans cheering on all over an empty field in Memorial Stadium November 20th.
It's the ultimate paradox. Would you go for the win in LA only to see the Axe snatched away? Expect when the Bears take an inexplicable 14-0 lead to keep on calling punts on 1st down, and have Bryan Anger punt it the wrong way to rack up the safeties for the befuddled Trojans. Tedford will not let the Axe leave Berkeley under any measures, even with the chance to bury South Central for good in 2010.
9. Tom Holmoe is not our head coach. Tedford has never won as Cal's coach at LA Coliseum, going 0-4 and losing every game in painful fashion. But Holmoe was a master wizard, going 2-0 in the former Olympic Stadium. Holmoe couldn't do many things (like win games ethically), but he struck fear into the hearts of the Men of Troy. Calls for Holmoe to step in have been met with non-Mormon-like four-letter word responses from Provo, prompting at least one Cal fan to scream "DOOOOOOOOOOOM."
8. The student becomes the master. Little over two decades ago, a spry Lane Kiffin was backup quarterback at Fresno State and later a student assistant under then offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford. However, given Tedford's track record of developing quarterbacks like Trent Dilfer and David Carr into NFL-ready pocket passers, Kiffin has always harbored a grudge against Tedford for never doing the same to him.
Ever since then, he's been implementing the perfect gameplans to destroy Tedford's Golden Bears, and as OC at USC he went 2-0 versus Cal, outscoring the Bears 58-19. When USC goes up 21-0, and you see the fire burning in Kiffin's eyes, remember these words. Because they'll never look this good again.
7. University of Running Backs. First Reggie Bush outdueled J.J. Arrington. Then Chauncey Washington made everyone forget about Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett. Then it was Joe McKnight dazzling people with his ability to put the ball on the ground, a skill our own Jahvid Best could never replicate. USC has continuously chugged out the greatest tailbacks in the conference--or at least that's what USC fans tell me (Best and Lynch would have been third-stringers in LA right?).
Enter Allan Bradford versus Shane Vereen. Vereen might be the better running back, but watch it not matter as USC stacks the box. The Trojans will dare Vereen's quarterback to throw against one on zero coverage, and then proceed to watch the ball break a fan's solar plexus in the stands. Meanwhile Bradford won't do anything...until the 4th quarter, when he takes a screen pass after Cal rushes eight and leaves the edge wide open. That's just how Trojan running backs do against our Bears.
Speaking of which,
6. Regression to the mean. The Cal defense has given up 3, 7, 52 (really 45, makes it look so much better), 10 (really 7, that field goal drive went 2 yards) and 7 points. Unfortunately, only one of those performances is legitimately impressive--the other two teams are ranked 85th and 107th in scoring offense. In comes USC, Matt Barkley, Allan Bradford, and Robert Woods, who have rolled up 35 points per game and thrive on the big play. Last week they put up five touchdowns on the fearsome fighting Harbaughs, who ESPN keeps telling me is the hottest head coach in America. If they can do that to Harbaugh, what will they do to our supposed Cro-Magnon fossil of a head coach?
Expect USC to do what they always do--run up the gut, student body right, playaction bootleg right, hitches and verticals, chug, chug, chug. When Pendergast brings on the blitz, the offensive line that's given up six sacks all season will pick it up, and Barkley will dump it off to the always vulnerable flats to Dillon Baxter for a 45 yard gain, or throw another wheel route to 34 year old Stanley Havili, and we'll be down 14-0 in a blink of an eye.
After that showing, they should put up at least 24 points, which should be enough because...
5. Kevin Riley is the hero the Trojans pass defense has needed. USC's defensive backs have sucked. So it makes perfect sense that they'll come in and throw a perfect game Saturday. Look across the board and you see a unit that stinks. 116th in yards given up, 2nd in the country at giving up passing plays of 10 yards or more, 102nd in 3rd down defense, 94th in 4th quarter defense (including seven touchdowns given up, most in the nation). But in comes Riley, who isn't Jeff Tuel or Jake Locker or Andrew Luck or Bryant Moniz. Because he's Kevin RIley.
all the experts this dude I met at Top Dog at 1 AM, Riley can't throw solid screens, his deep ball is questionable, he's losing his touch on the intermediate throws, and he doesn't make good decisions with the ball. Oh I'm sorry, I didn't remember that correctly; all he said was that Riley was the second coming of Justin Vedder. So when he comes to the field and throws a pick six on the first play, and then the next play he takes a fifteen yard sack, I'll remember that dude at Top Dog, and I'll think, "Man, I want myself a Kielbasa."
4. Trojan Men. No team has a more loyal and positive fanbase like the Men of Troy, who've been known to always support a team even when they fall on hard times. When USC goes down 10-0, expect the crowd to get louder and rowdier as they cheer their team on; it might sound like they're booing, but it's actually the cries for more booze so they can get even more supportive. If things go south, many will go beyond the call of duty leave to find vuvuzelas at halftime, but the traffic might prevent many from returning. This intimidating presence is sure to unnerve the Golden Bears, who might have to sign an armistice to prevent further mental damage.
3. ALAMAAAAAAARRRR. In 2004, the Golden Bears outplayed the Trojans, but gave up an 84 yard kickoff return, a bobbled punt snap that set up the Trojans first touchdown, and a punt return fumble that set up a field goal. Margin of defeat, six points. Although Jeff Genyk's unit might very well be ready to knock down the Pac-10 in a year or two, the first two conference games have proven the scars of Alamar remain.
What happened versus UCLA? Two bobbled punts, a roughing the punter penalty, a missed field goal, and several bad kickoff coverages. When it's 4th down, engage in the fetal position Cal fans. The ghost of the goateed one still patrols the sideline.
2. Starstruck. Although Riley has taken a lot of heat for his struggles early this year, he won't deserve the full brunt of the blame for this defeat. Because we all know that this trip to Los Angeles is what his receiving corps has been looking for. We all know that Alex Lagemann, Marvin Jones and Keenan Allen have been battling for the role of best Golden Bear music artist. Now that they're in the music capital of the world, look for them to disappear sometime in the second quarter when they've been asked by prominent Trojan alumni in the entertainment industry to perform in a live concert at the Hollywood Bowl. They'll arrive by the beginning of the 4th quarter, find an empty stadium in front of them, and exclaim "Oh, sh--".
When Riley takes the field with eight offensive linemen and the suddenly hulky Anthony Miller being the only passing option, he'll have to learn the Tom Osborne option offense on the fly to try and get the Bears offense going. The results should be like the Nebraska-Florida title game, except the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of that.
1. Mythological antecedents. Before the Trojan War commenced, Queen Hecuba once had a vision that her child would wreck her kingdom, so she left him exposed to the elements in hopes he would perish. Ultimately he was nursed back to health and raised as a shepherd by--you guessed it--a she-bear. That child was Paris.
With USC in such sad shape after two tough losses to Washington and the Furd, expect the Golden Bears to take pity on their dying cousins to the south and nurse them back to health for three quarters. And then before you know it, they'll take the game, steal their ladies, and our team will be left dueling in the Coliseum until everyone is left prone on the field. On the bright side, if we wait about ten more years, we should probably finally get one against the Men of Troy.