Nick Kranz: So here's the thing. USC really has a lot of similarities to UCLA. Both teams have well-balanced offenses that threaten equally through the air and on the ground. Both teams have strong lines. Both teams are, at least from a recruiting rankings perspective, meaningfully more talented than Cal. Both teams are marginally depleted thanks to injuries and/or sanctions. Many of the issues that Cal failed to deal with against UCLA will again be issues against the Trojans.
The good news is that Cal is unlikely to play as badly as they did against USC. Goff will probably be more accurate. the WRs (and DBs, for that matter) probably will show off better hands. But Cal could play much, much better and still lose. I want to believe that USC's banged up offensive line will give Cal a chance to create havoc in the backfield, but if Utah was unable to do so, why would Cal be any different?
If Cal wins this game, it's because the Bears manage to do two things: figure out how to exploit USC's secondary in much the same fashion that Stanford and Notre Dame did, and take enough advantage of USC's line injuries to get a few stops. It's in the realm of possibility, but it's not the most likely outcome.
Of course, you never know how a team is going to come out in college football. USC has had a habit of sleepwalking through multiple games every year for the last 7 years or so . . . but never against Cal. Meanwhile, Cal has occasionally brought their best football, but just as often brought their worst. You would think that the universe owes us a game against USC when Cal brings their best and USC doesn't. To the extent that these types of things are predictable (they aren't) I don't see any reason to expect USC to come out flat.
Piotr T Le: No one knows. I will refrain for making judgements on this game because Pac-12.
A.W Johnston: I think we will bounce back in this game, especially at home on Halloween. We are going to beat $C and clinch our winning season in front of the Berkeley faithful.
KWBears: I am very, very worried. I can easily see a beatdown like we just had against UCLA. It might be a Halloween that we won't want to remember....
Nik Jam: I'm very worried about the game. At the time of this writing, USC/Utah has not happened yet, but if you look at my Pac-12 picks I think USC will upset Utah. They have talent and have a lot of potential. The same could be said for UCLA and look at what they did to us. Cal will have a chance but they need to play well on both sides of the ball for four quarters, and they haven't done that yet this season or really the last 4 years. I know the team believes they can win and they're at home. Hopefully that will be enough.
Keegan Dresow: USC is filled with talent, but they struggle to execute with consistency. Cal is a program that is designed to execute with consistency. They'll need to do so to beat the Trojans.
boomtho: I'm less "worried" about this game because I never expected that we would beat USC, and this weekend's results is only further reinforcing that. In contrast, I thought coming into the UCLA game we had a good chance to win, so that one hit me much harder.
Ruey Yen: Obviously, the results of this past week has me worried about this upcoming weekend. However, I can totally see how a team in coaching turmoil like USC may easily overlook Cal, a team that they probably take granted to beat every year. Maybe everything will work out in our favor, Goff and the receivers make every connections, and Cal win by two scores. Halloween is a day to make-believe, right?
mpeters10: Unfortunately, I think we're in store for another loss to the Trojans. I would love it if we beat them, but if we don't, I at least want to see a spirited performance where we're in the game the whole way. I want to see a team that plays fundamentally sound football and is ready to play from the opening kickoff. I don't think we matchup well in the trenches on either side of the ball. USC is very athletic on the offensive and defensive lines, and our tackles don't handle the speed rushers too well. Also, Kessler is typically a "take what the defense gives you" type of quarterback, which does not bode well for our defense if we aren't able to get sustained pressure from Kragen and co.