USC Trojans vs. California Golden Bears: Watch Live Stream Online for Free; Preview
The USC Trojans are looking to beat the Golden Bears for the ninth straight time. (Photo: REUTERS)
The No. 13 USC Trojans will look to rebound from their first loss of the season as they return home to face the California Golden Bears. The game will be broadcast live at 6:00 p.m. ET on the Pac-12 Network, and you can also watch a live stream online for free here.
The explosive USC offense, led by Heisman Trophy candidate Matt Barkley, was shut down last week by the No. 9 Stanford Cardinal. Barkley threw two interceptions and was pressured by the relentless Stanford front all night. The Cardinal sacked Barkley four times and allowed just 276 yards of offense to a Trojan squad that had scored at least 40 points in each of its first two games.
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For the Trojans to regroup, they will need to figure out a way to give Barkley more time to throw the ball. The team returned four of its five starters from its 2012 squad, but the one new lineman is at perhaps the most important position - left tackle. There, Aundrey Walker replaces Matt Kalil, who was drafted into the NFL in April. Walker struggled against Stanford, and coach Lane Kiffin has given freshman Max Tuerk reps at the position in practice this week.
Making matters worse is the uncertainty at the center position. Starter Khaled Holmes was injured in the Trojans' second game of the season and missed all of the Stanford contest. The line clearly struggled with redshirt freshman Cyrus Hobbi in his place. Holmes is currently listed as questionable for Saturday's game.
USC's rush attack also struggled against Stanford, gaining just 26 net yards on the ground. However, that was against a Stanford rush defense that ranks third in the nation in yards allowed per game. California, meanwhile, is just 64th in the nation in that category, giving up an average of over 150 yards per game on the ground.
California is coming off its second loss of the season, a 35-28 defeat to Ohio State. The Golden Bears were tied with the Buckeyes halfway through the fourth quarter, but Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller threw the game-winning, 72-yard touchdown pass with 3:26 left. Still, the game was California's most impressive performance of the young season.
The Golden Bears are a threat on the offensive side of the ball, scoring an average of 34 points per game. Last week, backup running back Brendan Bigelow broke two long touchdown runs against an Ohio State defense that had allowed just 51 yards on the ground per game before that contest.
Thus, California could potentially keep up with the Trojans on the scoreboard. But its 96th-ranked defense should allow USC to put up plenty of points as well, provided the Trojans' offensive line rebounds from last week's performance.
The Trojans are looking to earn a bowl berth this season after being banned from postseason play in each of the last two years. The preseason No. 1 will now likely need help from other squads to earn a BCS bowl trip, but USC still needs to take care of its own business as well. Beating an inferior opponent that it has dominated over the last decade is the first step.