USC will try to maintain its recent dominance against California when the No. 5 Trojans hit the road for the first time this season to play the Golden Bears on Saturday. USC has won 13 straight games against California and 12 straight overall, but two of its three wins this season were much closer than expected, a big reason why the Trojans dropped a spot in the coaches’ poll this week.
USC was a two touchdown favorite against visiting Texas on Saturday night, but needed a last second field goal in regulation and another in double overtime to defeat the Longhorns. The Trojans also needed a late surge to beat Western Michigan in their season opener and, even stranger, delivered their best performance a week later against their toughest opponent thus far, a 42-24 win against then-No. 14 Stanford. The Golden Bears are also 3-0 after coming from behind in the second half to win all three games, outscoring their opponents 57-13 in the process. “It’s not always pretty with us, but the guys find a way,” said first year coach Justin Wilcox, who coached USC’s defense for nearly three seasons before he was fired by current coach Clay Helton following the 2015 regular season.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC. LINE: USC -16.5.
ABOUT USC (3-0, 1-0 Pac-12): The Trojans aren’t having any difficulties moving the ball, and one of their biggest offensive threats has been junior wide receiver Deontay Burnett. He has 24 catches for 386 and four touchdowns this season, including a 25-yarder in the first overtime against Texas. California gave up two touchdowns of 75 yards or more last week against Mississippi, so there could be some seams to exploit for Burnett and quarterback Sam Darnold.
ABOUT CALIFORNIA (3-0, 0-0): The Golden Bears were without their best receiver last weekend, and whether Demetris Robertson returns from his undisclosed injury against the Trojans probably won’t be known until game day. He was a freshman All-American last season after catching 50 passes for 767 yards and seven touchdowns, and was a key part of California’s first two victories. Kanawai Noa stepped up with a career-best six catches for 81 yards and the sophomore from Honolulu could remain the top target of quarterback Ross Bowers if Robertson remains out.
1. USC does not have a bye between regular season games for the first time since 1985.
2. USC, UCLA and Notre Dame are the only FBS teams who have never played an FCS school since the divisions were established in 1978.
3. California has forced three turnovers in each of its first three games this season.
PREDICTION: USC 31, California 24