Cal needs USC mistakes; Trojans need style points
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
LOS ANGELES -- It's raining here just like last weekend at California. Raining sunshine!
Weather will not be a factor.
Just looking over the two teams depth charts, it seems that California's best -- perhaps only chance -- is decisively winning the turnover battle. Or, at least, winning it like the Bears did last week against Oregon, when Ducks turnovers were catastrophic, accounting for 16 of the Bears 26 points.
That means the Bears defense, which leads the nation with 17 interceptions, needs to rattle USC's Mark Sanchez, who is nursing a tweaked ankle.
There is no way Cal consistently moves the ball on the USC defense. But that doesn't mean it can't be opportunistic and take a few shots downfield and see if it can get Jahvid Best into open space and let him get creative.
Speaking of creative: Might Jeff Tedford have a few trick plays up his sleave? That used to be one of his staples.
Perhaps the Trojans defense will show a weakness with the absence of safety Kevin Ellison, the unit's glue player?
And what if the star-crossed Longshore finds some fairy dust and turns in a dynamic performance -- the sort many expected to see from him on a regular basis after he threw for 3,000 yards as a sophomore?
If that happens, and he leads the upset, the Bears would then be three wins away from their first Rose Bowl berth since 1959.
As for USC, the Trojans have played in four Rose Bowls in five years after winning six consecutive Pac-10 titles. They actually are still eyeballing a trip to Miami.
That's a longshot hope. To make it less long, though, they're going to have to notch some style points.
That means laying a whipping on the Bears.
That's not beyond the realm of possibility. Since losing 27-21 at Oregon State, USC has won five in a row by the count of 214-20. Even with a couple of patsies in that slate, that's pretty darn extraordinary.
With Penn State losing today and Alabama on the ropes, the door may be open a crack.
Final Cincinnati 17 Virginia Tech 33 Final 15 Arizona State 36 Duke 31 Final Miami (FL) 21 South Carolina 24 Final/OT Boston College 30 Penn State 31 Final Nebraska 42 24 USC 45
Final Nevada 3 Louisiana-Lafayette 16 Final Utah State 21 UTEP 6 Final 22 Utah 45 Colorado State 10 Final Western Michigan 24 Air Force 38 Final South Alabama 28 Bowling Green 33
Final Marshall 52 Northern Illinois 23 Final Navy 17 San Diego State 16
Final Central Michigan 48 Western Kentucky 49 Final Fresno State 6 Rice 30
Final Illinois 18 Louisiana Tech 35 Final Rutgers 40 North Carolina 21 Final North Carolina State 34 UCF 27
2:00 PM ET Texas A&M West Virginia 5:30 PM ET Oklahoma 17 Clemson 9:00 PM ET Arkansas Texas
3:00 PM ET Notre Dame 23 LSU 6:30 PM ET 13 Georgia 21 Louisville 10:00 PM ET Maryland Stanford
12:30 PM ET 9 Ole Miss 6 TCU 4:00 PM ET 20 Boise State 10 Arizona 8:00 PM ET 7 Mississippi State 12 Georgia Tech
12:00 PM ET 19 Auburn 18 Wisconsin 12:30 PM ET 8 Michigan State 5 Baylor 1:00 PM ET 16 Missouri 25 Minnesota 5:00 PM ET 2 Oregon 3 Florida State 8:30 PM ET 1 Alabama 4 Ohio State
12:00 PM ET Houston Pittsburgh 3:20 PM ET Iowa Tennessee 6:45 PM ET 11 Kansas State 14 UCLA 10:15 PM ET Washington Oklahoma State