Cal Football: First Look at USC

Photo by Ron Chenoy, USA Today
Jeff Faraudo

Here is the early report on what you need to know about the Trojans:

KICKOFF: 8 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium, Berkeley.

TV: FS1

WEATHER FORECAST: Berkeley is expected to be about 53 degrees at kickoff with the temperature dropping to about 50 by game’s end. There will be very light winds with virtually no chance of rain.

USC 2019 RECORD: The Trojans are 6-4 overall, 5-2 in Pac-12 play.

LAST GAME: USC jumped out to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter and held on for a 31-26 victory at Arizona State on Saturday to pocket its sixth victory and earn bowl eligibility. Freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis passed for 432 yards and four touchdowns, including 297 yards and all four TDs in the first quarter. Slovis actually sat out two series while hooked to an IV in the on-field medical tent while fighting cramps. USC wound up with 547 total yards, averaging 7.5 yards per snap. ASU played without injured freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels.

THE SERIES: USC leads 70-31-5. This is designated as the Bears' annual Joe Roth Game, honoring the quarterback great who played the 1976 season knowing he had terminal melanoma. Roth died Feb. 19, 1977. Cal won Joe Roth throwback uniforms on Saturday. The Bears won 15-14 last year at the Los Angeles Coliseum, snapping the Trojans’ 14-game win streak in the series.

USC COACH: Clay Helton, 47, is 38-21 in his fifth full season as the Trojans’ coach. He has led USC into four bowl games (including the 2013 Las Vegas Bowl before he was named permanent coach). Helton led the Trojans to the 2017 Pac-12 championship, but his future status is in limbo after the Trojans went 5-7 a year ago. That was USC’s first losing season since 2000 and just its third since 1983. The Trojans have been erratic this season, and the heat was turned up on Helton after USC’s 56-24 home loss to Oregon during which the Ducks scored touchdowns on eight consecutive possessions.

USC STORYLINES: The Trojans have been hit hard by injuries from the start of the season, including the loss of returning starter JT Daniels at quarterback, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opening game. Injuries at running back have led to freshman Kenan Christon — a fifth-stringer at the start of the season — climbing to a starting role. USC was 3-1 after beating Utah 30-23 at home, but lost at Washington and Notre Dame to fall to 3-3. The low point was the decisive home loss to Oregon that knocked the Trojans out of first place in the Pac-12 South. USC is bowl eligible, but new athletic director Mike Bohn will make the call about Clay Helton’s future after the season.

USC’S BEST PLAYER: We’ll go with the Trojans’ talented wide receiver trio of seniors Michael Pittman Jr. and Tyler Vaughns and sophomore Amon-Ra St. Brown, who have combined this season for 188 receptions for 2,356 yards and 18 touchdowns. Pittman caught 13 passes fo 148 yards at Arizona State and St. Brown had 8 receptions for 173 yards and a touchdown. Over their careers, Pittman and Vaughns have combined for 318 catches for 4,417 yards and 32 TDs.

BETTING LINE: USC opened as an 4-point favorite, according to VegasInsider.com.

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