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Cal Football Preview Box: Bears Host USC in 2021 Finale

Senior Day, Joe Roth Memorial Game, remembrance of 1991 Golden Bears squad

Cal and USC face each other in a late Saturday night game in Berkeley that will be the next-to-last regular-season college football game in the country. The game was originally scheduled for Nov. 13, but was postponed because of COVID issues in the Cal program. (Army plays Navy next week in the final regular-season game.)

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley was hired as USC’s new head coach this week, but interim head coach Donte Williams will remain the Trojans' head coach for Saturday’s game against Cal.

It will be Senior Night for Cal, with 28 seniors being introduced before the final college game for most of them. Several, including Chase Garbers and Kuony Deng, will have the option of returning to play next season because the 2020-pandemic-shortened season did not count against players’ eligibility.

It is also the Joe Roth Memorial Game, and Cal will wear its mid-1970s throwback uniforms to honor the former Golden Bears' quarterback who passed away from cancer shortly after his 1976 senior season.

The evening includes recognition of the 30-year reunion of the 1991 Cal team that finished 10-2 and ranked No. 8 in the country. Bud "Dog" Turner will also be honored for his more than a half-century of service to Cal football before he passed away in September of 2020.

Here are the key facts for Saturday night’s game:

CAL (4-7, 3-5 Pac-12) vs. USC (4-7, 3-5 Pac-12)

SITE: Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, Calif.

WHEN: Saturday, 8 p.m.

TV: FS1 – Tim Brando (Play-By-Play), Spencer Tillman (Analyst)

RADIO: KGO 810 AM -- Joe Starkey (Play-By-Play), Mike Pawlawski (Analyst), Todd McKim (sideline reporter).

BETTING LINE: Cal is favored by 4.5 points as of Friday; over/under is 57.5 points.

WEATHER FORECAST: There will be a few clouds in Berkeley on Saturday afternoon with a high temperature of 59 degrees. It will cool down by the time the game starts, with the temperature dropping to 4 degrees Saturday night. There is only an 8 percent chance of rain Saturday night.

CAL-USC HISTORY: USC leads the alltimes series 71-30-5, but the teams did not meet during last year’s pandemic-shortened season. It was the first time since 1925 that Cal and USC did not play each other. USC won the most recent meeting, 41-17, in 2019 in Berkeley. The Trojans have won 15 of the last 16 games against Cal, with the Bears’ only win in that span being a 15-14 victory at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 2018.

INJURIES: Cal: Cal outside linebacker Kuony Deng is unlikely to play because of a leg injury suffered in the second game of the season. Wide receiver Jeremiah Hunter is questionable with an arm injury.

USC: Quarterback Kedon Slovis is doubtful with a leg injury, and running back Keaontay Ingram is questionable with an upper-body injury. Wide receiver Drake London was lost for the season with a leg injury 

CAL STORYLINES: The Bears are coming off a disappointing 42-14 loss to UCLA, which was the Bears’ largest margin of defeat this season. It ended Cal’s chances for a bowl berth and a winning season. . . . Cal will finish with a losing conference record for the 12th consecutive season. If Cal wins on Saturday it would finish alone in fourth place in the Pac-12 North with the seventh-best Pac-12 record. If Cal loses it would finish in a tie for fourth with Washington in the North, and the Bears would tie Colorado and Washington for the eighth-best conference record, ahead of only Stanford and Arizona . . . This might be the final Cal game for a number of Golden Bears players, including quarterback Chase Garbers, who is in his fourth season as a starter but has the option of returning for the 2022 season because the 2020 season did not count against players’ college eligibility. Garbers has not decided whether he will return of enter the NFL draft. He hopes to bounce back from a poor performance against UCLA . . . Cal has committed only 10 turnovers this season, which ranks second in the Pac-12 and 13th in the country for fewest turnovers. However, Cal committed two turnovers (both interceptions) last week . . . Cal ranks eighth in the Pac-12 in scoring (23.7 points per game), and ranks fourth in scoring defense, yielding 23.0 points per game . . . Defensive back Josh Drayden broke Cal’s career record for games played when he played in his 53rd game against Stanford and upped his total to 54 at UCLA. Syd'Quan Thompson (2006-09) had previously held the record with 52. Safety Elijah Hicks has played in 53 games at Cal, and Luc Bequette has played in 52 for the Golden Bears.

USC STORYLINES: The Trojans, who were ranked 15th in the preseason AP poll, are coming off a 35-31 loss to BYU, which was the Trojans’ third straight loss. USC is hoping to avoid its first four-game losing streak since 2001. . . USC runs a version of the Air Raid offense under offensive coordinator Graham Harrell and leads the Pac-12 in passing yards per games (301.4). However, the Trojans have been playing without their best receiver, Drake London, for the past three games after he sustained a season-ending injury . . . . USC ranks fifth in the conference in scoring offense, averaging 30 points per game . . . USC has given up more than 30 points in each of its last six games, and has limited its opponent to fewer than 30 points only twice this season . . . The Trojans rank last in the Pac-12 in scoring defense, yielding 32.5 points per game, and they rank 11th in total defense. . . . Freshman Jaxson Dart is expected to make his third straight start at quarterback for the Trojans. He is 0-2 as a starter. . . Running back Keaontay Ingram, USC's leading rusher, is questionable for the game, and if he does not play, the starter is likely to be Vavae Malepeai, who rushed for a season-high 99 yards last week against BYU . . . There have been rumors that some USC players might not want to play in the final game, but that has not been substantiated.

Read More

---Claudette Pattison-Montana of All Trojans answers five questions about the Trojans, including the impact of Lincoln Riley---

CAL PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Chase Garbers (Pac-12 leader in total offense had his worst game of the season last week against UCLA when he threw two interceptions); KR Nikko Remigio (leads the Pac-12 and ranks ninth nationally with 29.7 yards per kickoff return), WR Trevon Clark (Cal’s big-play receiver had no catches last week); OLB Marqez Bimage (7.5 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries); OLB Cameron Goode (6.0 sacks, 4 pass breakups); S Elijah Hicks (65 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions).

USC PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Jaxson Dart (freshman is 0-2 as a starter, has 8 TD passes, 5 interceptions); RB Keaontay Ingram (team’s leading rusher with 911 yards, missed last week’s game with an injury); WR Gary Bryant Jr. (7 TD catches, good kick returner); OLB Drake Jackson (8.0 tackles for loss, 1 interception); DT Tuli Tuipulotu (4.5 sacks, 2 pass breakups)





JAKE'S PICK: Cal 32, USC 24

JEFF’S PICK: Cal 27, USC 21

Cal players carried the seniors off the field following their final practice

Wilcox talks about Bud "Dog" Turner:

Donte Williams' Thursday press conference


Cover photo of Jaxson Dart by Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports


Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53

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