Cal aim to end futility against now-reeling USC

LOS ANGELES — Even if USC were eligible for the postseason,
this is not looking like one of its championship-caliber teams. The
Trojans are 1-2 in Pac-10 play, and their defense is ranked 100th
in the nation in yards allowed per game.

Still, knocking off the once mighty Trojans would be a
significant benchmark for Cal’s
football program. The Bears, who
visit the Los Angeles Coliseum this afternoon, haven’t defeated USC
in seven years.

“For this program, the last win was in 2003. To get that win,
regardless of the group of guys they have over there, it will be a
great win for this program,” Cal fifth-year senior Darian Hagan
said.

Because of NCAA sanctions, the Trojans are ineligible to win the
Pac-10 title or go to a bowl game. But USC isn’t playing at that
kind of level anyway. The Trojans are 4-2, 1-2 in conference play
after back-to-back last-second losses to Washington and
Stanford.

But USC has had issues even in its wins, especially on defense.
Once an impenetrable unit from year to year, the Trojans have been
plagued by bad tackling and big plays this season.

On the flip side, USC still has an explosive offense, led by
sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley, running back Allen Bradford and
wide receivers Ronald Johnson and Robert Woods.

“I’m not looking past any team,” Cal linebacker Mychal Kendricks
said. “I’m not going to sit here and say that they’re more
beatable, because regardless of the situation, they’re still SC.
They still play good ball. They’re good competitors.”

Heading into last season, it appeared that would be the Bears’
best shot to beat the Trojans. Cal entered the year ranked 12th in
the country, and USC was supposed to be rebuilding. But the Trojans
whipped Cal 30-3 at Memorial Stadium.

This year, both teams appear to be in the middle of the pack in
the conference pecking order. Today’s result could go a long way in
determining separation from the rest of the Pac-10.

“I feel like everyone at least once in their
college careers deserved to beat
SC,” Kendricks said. “That’s what the goal is. The goal is to beat
everybody, but everyone wants to beat SC.”