Thursday, 19 July, 2018

Cal unravels against USC after series of second-half turnovers

Sep 23 2017 Berkeley CA USA USC Trojans safety Ykili Ross intercepts a pass intended for California Golden Bears wide receiver Vic Wharton III for a 42 yard return in the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium Cal unravels against USC after series of second-half turnovers
Melinda Barton | 25 September, 2017, 06:43

As injuries mounted against Texas, the unit still held the Longhorns, who had entered averaging nearly 49 points per game, without an offensive touchdown until the final minute of regulation. "We're confident in ourselves". "So that's really what we're focused on and not necessarily opinions of others".

It was not an easy week for the two teams ahead of the Trojans as Oklahoma struggled with winless Baylor and Penn State won on the final play of the game against Iowa. If any team had an edge in the trenches, on both sides of the ball, it was coach Justin Wilcox's spiritually renewed Bears.

The Bears did do some good things, outgaining USC 416-to-356 and holding the Trojans without a single play of 20 yards or more.

The Cal defense got off to an excellent start on the Trojans' first play of the game. In its latest game Saturday, Cal was tied with USC in the fourth quarter before the Trojans pulled away by scoring two touchdowns on consecutive possessions following a fumble and interception by Cal quarterback Ross Bowers. There is still plenty of confidence in this program, especially after last week's dramatic win, but the feeling of invincibility that made fans chant "We want 'Bama" past year is fading rapidly. "The thing that just jumps off the page is their effort and the way they play. The best place for us is on the sideline, so the more we can be over there the better".

"Ross is the toughest person on the team", Wharton said. He plays with guts. So I'm just going to continue to play.

"If it was a year ago, I'd be really anxious right now", Helton said. USC's last loss came on September 23, 2016, when the Trojans fell 31-27 to Utah in Darnold's first career start. But the players still weren't satisfied.

The success comes as little surprise at USC, where numerous defensive players for the Trojans played for Wilcox when he was defensive coordinator there from 2013-15. He finished with two fumbles and four interceptions, and while it's hard to fault him for each turnover, the body of work simply won't get the job done against strong opponents.

"We had our opportunities to get off the field a couple times on third downs, but we didn't", added Wilcox.

Fifth-ranked USC plays its first road game of the season against California in Berkeley on Saturday night in a game between 3-0 teams that don't yet know how good they are. They are really becoming a physical football team. A stop would've given Oklahoma State the ball deep in its own territory with plenty of time and a chance to win with a touchdown, and a loss would've allowed the Frogs to run out the clock. "You can see that team is developing an identity". Expect Cal to attack or try to exploit any weaknesses the coaching staff identifies because of all shuffling taking place with the Trojans' personnel.

Those words won't serve as any consolation for the Bears, who vow to learn from their first defeat.

Helton said Bowers "has some great accuracy down the field vertically". The Bears also held the Trojans to 356 yards, ending their streak of 13 straight games with at least 400 yards.