Friday, June 22, 2012
Pac-12 ultimate road trip: Week 4
By Kevin Gemmell
Welcome back to the road trip. We're taking a week-by-week look at the entire Pac-12 schedule and picking out the game we feel is the marquee game of the week. If you have the time and means this is the game you want to see.
Saturday Sept. 22
My choice: Cal at USC
- Colorado at Washington State
- Utah at Arizona State
- Arizona at Oregon
- Cal at USC
- Oregon State at UCLA
Why: Braxton Miller's poorly-timed bootleg was the difference last week. He rolled right into a salivating Deandre Coleman who jarred the ball loose and Marc Anthony scooped it up and went 54 yards the other way to lock up the 31-24 win for the Bears. A frustrated Urban Meyer, whose team is now 0-3 but somehow still ranked No. 6, says to heck with the $4 million and calls Kyle Whittingham to inquire about any openings on his staff.
Meanwhile, Matt Barkley -- no worse for the wear -- survived four sacks by Stanford's front seven but managed 375 yards passing and three touchdowns to get the Tree off his back in a 35-21 win over the Cardinal.
That brings us to the Biletnikoff Bowl. Three of the conference's top wide receivers will be on display in a game USC won 30-9 last year. Cal's Keenan Allen and USC's Marqise Lee and Robert Woods are the marquee playmakers -- and of course -- Barkley, whose Heisman campaign is off to a glowing start.
But he faces another elite defense this week that had Barkley's and USC's number last season. The Bears, which held Barkley to a season-low 195 yards, also held the Trojans to their lowest total yardage of the season (313) and limited them to 118 yards on the ground (third lowest last year).
But as is the case with most games, turnovers were the difference. And Cal had five of them last season. Three Zach Maynard interceptions, a fumble by Maynard and a fumble by Allen produced 13 points for the Trojans.
While this is a cross-division game, it still has plenty of implications. For starters, it's one of the league's top offenses going against what's expected to be one of the league's top defenses. That in itself makes this a quality draw. The Bears, after their win at The Horseshoe, should be overflowing with confidence. But USC owns the series of late, winning eight in a row by an average score of 29-10. Cal's last win over the Trojans came in 2003 -- when Tyler Fredrickson's 38-yard field goal locked up the triple-overtime win over the No. 1 Trojans.
With Stanford and Washington both on bye gearing up for their big Thursday night showdown (hint, hint for Week 5), this game provides the most intrigue.
You can check out the rest of the road trip here.