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What are the greatest Cal football games against USC?

They’re out there!

General view from the enzone Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Most exciting game

Avinash: There are California Golden Bears freshmen entering college who haven’t seen an exciting Cal–USC game. Cal people, you tell me. Was 2003 or 2004 more exciting?

Ragnarok: The 2004 game was by far the better-played game (with better teams and higher stakes) but I was in attendance for both games and I feel like I was more excited by the 2003 upset, which had plenty of twists and turns just getting to the 3OT winning kick, including two blocks of Cal FG attempts—once near the end of regulation and then a potential game-winner in the first OT. As a fan, I didn’t go into that game with much hope, but the longer the Bears held a lead, the more I started to believe.

Ohio Bear: Like Rags, I think that the 2004 game was better from a quality-of-play standpoint, but 2003 was the more exciting game. Cal built a lead early with a potent offensive attack, but USC settled in and threatened to wrest complete control of the game in the second half. Cal did well to stay in the game and then made the plays in overtime to get the win.

Fans of the California Golden Bears cheer
Fans in Strawberry Canyon witnessing the most exciting Cal–USC game in all of ever.
Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Best Cal performance

Avinash: The 2004 performance against USC was probably one of the best performances by any Cal team ever. Unfortunately, USC was just a tad better.

Ohio Bear: 1991. #10 Cal 52, USC 31. Since Avi already picked 2004, I will go with 1991. Granted, Cal was 6–1 and on the way to its best season in decades while USC was languishing at 3–4 when the Trojans came into Berkeley on the first Saturday of November. Cal did not care that USC was not as formidable as it had been, as Russell White pounded the Trojans for 229 rushing yards on the way to a one-sided Cal victory in front of more than 70,000 at Memorial Stadium.

Best Cal upset

Avinash: Beating a team that would proceed not to lose for about two and a half years probably is going to rank #1 by a wide margin.

Justin Vedder #10
This is what football looked like in 1998. Hello, Justin Vedder!

Ohio Bear: 1998. Cal 32, #19 USC 31. Cal trailed 31–10 midway through the 3rd quarter after USC’s R. Jay Soward returned a punt 80 yards for a TD, his second long explosion play of the game. But the Bears improbably scored the next 22 points of the game, capped by the go-ahead TD run by Marcus Fields with 3:30 left in the game. This game was part of the weird voodoo magic that Tom Holmoe seemed to have over USC.

Leland Wong: I’ll have an answer for this question when Cal upsets USC during my fandom.