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Cal @ USC 2016: Q & A with JulianLopez of Conquest Chronicles

Read on to find out more about USC, from the perspective of a USC writer!

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

1) USC started the season poorly (albeit with a really tough schedule), but has since run off three wins. How well is the team playing now (i.e., if they played this well all year, would they be a 10-win team)?

The two biggest keys to the three-game winning streak has been the play of quarterback Sam Darnold and the defense. Darnold has had an issue with turnovers but he has played extremely well lately, especially coming off of his five touchdown performance against Arizona. The defense has been outstanding recently. There hasn't been a lot of blown assignments and the Trojans defensive line has controlled the line of scrimmage.

2) USC has allowed 21 points or fewer in their last three wins. Has the D really turned around or is it juuuuust the right time for a classic Clancy P meltdown game?

I think the Trojans defense has turned it around. USC is becoming more physical, the secondary has been fantastic, and they are forcing more turnovers. USC hasn't faced an Air Raid offense like Cal's so it will be interesting but they did a great job of slowing down the high-power offense of Arizona State. I think this game will be a great test for the secondary to see how truly deep they are.

3) How is Sam Darnold settling in now that it's halfway through his freshman year? Has the team rallied behind him in any different way than they did behind Max Browne?

Fantastic. He is becoming a star and USC hasn't had a quarterback with this much mobility since Rodney Peete. He also has a hell of arm. He is becoming more comfortable in the pocket and looks like a season veteran on the field. His one area that he needs to work on is his turnovers and holding onto the ball when he scrambles. There hasn't been a different rally around him that the group had with Browne.

4) Grade Clay Helton's performance thus far this year.

C+. After the ugly start to the season, fans were calling for the firing of Helton but the team has bounced back and still has a chance at winning the division. USC should have beaten Utah but they have turned the corner with their last three wins. The daunting November doesn't look as tough now that we are more than halfway through the season and this team can still win 9-10 games.

5) What will it take for Cal to finally beat USC?

Turnovers by the Trojan offense and complete destruction by the defense. It's also a Thursday night game and weird things happen on Thursday nights for USC.

6) Now that the Rams are back in town and sharing a stadium, have there been any effects on USC fan attendance or sentiment?

None.

7) Whom do you want to punch in the face?

Whoever created the Thursday night football idea.