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.”