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USC vs. Cal Game Day Open Thread

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USC 30, CAL 9 FINAL. CLICK HERE FOR THE POST GAME THREADCLICK HERE TO LOOK BACK AT THE FOURTH QUARTER THREADCLICK HERE TO LOOK BACK AT THE HALFTIME & THIRD QUARTER THREAD CLICK HERE TO LOOK BACK AT THE SECOND QUARTER OPEN THREADCLICK HERE TO LOOK BACK AT THE FIRST QUARTER OPEN THREAD.

UPDATE: Cal is wearing blue helmets, gold jerseys, and blue pants, not the "Block C" white helmets rumored earlier this week. We apologize for the erroneous info!

After two road losses to start the Pac-12 season, the California Golden Bears finally play their first "home" game of the conference season. The Bears welcome their old nemesis, the USC Trojans, to their San Francisco home-away-from-home, AT&T Park.

Cal has lost the last seven meetings with USC. The Bears' last win against the Trojans came on September 27, 2003, when Cal pulled off an improbable 34-31 triple-overtime upset against the third-ranked and eventual AP national champion USC juggernaut. Since that win, however, Cal has had nothing but futility against USC, losing in close heartbreaking fashion (2004), close frustrating fashion (2006, 2007), competitive yet unthreatening fashion (2008), and by simply getting debacled (2005, 2009, 2010).

Last year, the Bears were profoundly uncompetitive, falling behind USC 42-0 in the first half on the way to a 48-14 Trojans romp at the Los Angeles Memorial Colisum. USC quarterback Matt Barkley torched the Cal defense for 352 yards and five TD passes, as USC rolled up an obscene 602 yards in total offense. Cal's defense was particularly helpless against wide receiver Robert Woods, who caught seven passes for 116 yards and two TDs.

The Bears will have their hands full with Woods again. The talented sophomore leads the Pac-12 (and is third nationally) with 747 receiving yards to go along with six touchdowns. If Cal is not able to slow down the Barkley-to-Woods connection, it will hope to keep pace with its own statistically prolific receiving threat. Cal sophomore Keenan Allen is fifth nationally with 648 receiving yards and has four touchdowns. Allen's 17.1 yards per reception average is even better than Woods' (13.6). Allen was a bright spot in Cal's 43-15 loss to Oregon last week, hauling in nine passes for 170 yards to post his fourth 100-yard receiving game of the season.

Basic game broadcast information:

2011 CALIFORNIA FOOTBALL
Thursday, Oct. 13, 6:00 p.m. (PT)
Cal (3-2, 0-2 Pac-12) vs. USC (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12)
AT&T Park, San Francisco, CA

Live Coverage
TV: ESPN/ESPN 3D - Rece Davis (Play-by-Play), Craig James (Analyst), Jesse Palmer (Analyst), Jenn Brown (Sideline Analyst)
Cal Commercial Radio: KGO 810 AM (San Francisco) - Joe Starkey (Play-By-Play), Troy Taylor (Analyst, Pregame Show), Todd McKim (Pregame Show, Sideline), Lee Grosscup (Postgame Show), Kate Scott (Postgame Show) Postgame at The Decks at Mission Rock, 817 Terry Francois Blvd.,San Francisco, CA
IMG College/Cal Radio Network Affiliates: KFPT 790 AM (Fresno), KESP 970 AM (Modesto), KPRZ 1210 AM (San Diego), KMZT 1260 AM (Los Angeles), KTKZ 1380 AM (Sacramento), KFIG 1430 AM (Fresno).
All-Access Radio: The Cal commercial radio broadcast feed of the game can be heard on the Internet thorugh the All-Access channel on CalBears.com. All-Access can be found under the Multimedia tab at the top of the page.
Cal Student Radio: KALX 90.7 FM (Berkeley) - KALX 90.7 FM (Berkeley) - Danny Freisinger (Play-By-Play), Elliott Schwimmer (Analyst)
Sirius XM Satellite Radio: The commercial radio broadcasts of both teams for the Cal-USC game can be heard on Sirius XM satellite radio. The Sirius and XM channels for the Cal feed are both 91. The Sirius and XM channels for the Oregon feed are both 85.
National Radio: Sports USA Radio Network, sportsusaradio.com - Dan Fouts (Play by-Play), John Robinson (Analyst)

CalBears.com: Visit CalBears.com for complete coverage of Cal football, including a live play-by-play update via Gametracker.

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Though Cal is sure to have its hands full with Woods -- especially with starting cornerback Marc Anthony highly doubtful due to a shoulder injury -- the Trojans can come at the Bears with more than Woods. ManBearCal previews the USC offense, including the stellar receiving corps--

What to expect:

SC's receivers thrive on the short passing game: screens, slants, etc. We'll need sure tackling and tight coverage to ensure we don't run into trouble with big chunks of YAC lighting up the stat sheet. The emergence of Lee as a viable receiving option is BAD. I'm sorely tempted to think of this group as Robert Woods and some warm bodies...but Lee's more than that. He's an athlete. Many schools were recruiting him as a Safety and saw his future on the defensive side of the ball. The fact that he's had such an impact, at wide receiver, tells you just how much of an athlete he is. Does this sound like anyone we Cal fans know? I'm not saying Marqise=Keenan necessarily, but just that possibility is enough to make me crap my blue and gold undies. If Lee can demand enough attention to let Woods find room to do Robert Woods things, that spells trouble. Don't get me wrong, I still feel like if we can shut down Woods we'll be in good shape, and that has to at least be the focus. Personally, I think that's way too much to reasonably expect though. Our pass defense has been pretty awful as of late. And as I alluded to earlier, losing Marc Anthony will hurt. The SC receivers can be physical, and Anthony was a physical presence in the secondary...despite some of his other limitations. Is Stefan McClure ready to step up? Can our safeties offer some legitimate help to our corners in coverage, or will they continue to look like amateur bullfighters? If Woods is going to get his, the key may be making sure Lee and company get as little as possible. Full damage control mode here until the secondary shows me more.

The USC offense against the Cal defense will make for some nervous nellies on the Cal side of the rooting spectrum. But what about the Cal offense against the USC defense? Can the Bears manage to score more than 17 points against the Trojans for the first time since 2003? norcalnick previews the USC defense:

There's lots of angst amongst USC fans over the Trojan defense. That's not particularly surprising - fans don't tend to react well when their team allows 40+ points twice in a row, particularly when it's against teams they've grown accustomed to dominating. But it's created a perception that USC's defense is downright bad. That may well be true - it's still early in the season and there's not enough evidence to be sure. But as best I can tell from having watched a little USC football, and from taking a look at the stats, USC's defense is exactly average in every way.

Consider: In four of USC's five games, the opponent finished within 30 yards of their season average for yards/game. Also consider: In every major defensive category USC ranks somewhere between the low 40s and high 60s.

So really, in just about every way, USC is mediocre. Now, when you compare that to most USC teams of the recent past, that might be cause for teeth-gnashing amongst Trojan fans. But it actually stands as a mild improvement from last year's sieve, which was the worst USC defense by a stunningly wide margin in a decade.

If the stats are telling the truth, and USC is indeed average, that means Cal should roll up around 425 yards and 27 points. (note: I removed Presbyterian stats from the average for obvious reasons.) That would be 10 more points than Cal has managed against USC since 2003. Would 27 actually be enough to win the game?

We would be remiss if we did not mention that tonight's game marks the annual Joe Roth Memorial Game. Roth played quarterback for the Bears in 1975 and 1976, helping lead Cal to a share of the 1975 Pac-8 championship. Sadly, Roth died of cancer in February 1977, just three months shy of his 22nd birthday. Roth died just a month after playing in the Hula Bowl, a college all-star game in Hawaii. Roth's # 12 is the only jersey retired in the history of Cal football.

2006-11-24-joe-roth-30-years-later_medium

via 1.bp.blogspot.com

The incomparable Joe Roth.

USE THIS AS YOUR PREGAME THREAD. WATCH FOR THE LINK TO THE FIRST QUARTER THREAD WHEN THE GAME STARTS. LINKS TO THE SECOND, THIRD, AND FOURTH QUARTER THREADS WILL ALSO BE POSTED HERE.

GO BEARS!