USC Holds Off Cal 24-17

A jersey change couldn’t do for Cal what it did for Georgia earlier on this Saturday.

Cal went with their throwback jerseys in honour of former Cal quarterback Joe Roth who died 30 years ago. The karma kept Cal in this game early as Justin Forsett ran wild in the pouring rain. The rain may have kept Cal head coach Jeff Tedford from opening up the passing game especially considering quarterback Nate Longshore’s bad ankle but the offense was productive nevertheless.

Cal wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins cemented himself as one of the top players in the Pac 10, even lining up at quarterback and taking a direct snap for a first down. He finished with just three catches for 53 yards and a touchdown, partly a product of Longshore’s poor completion percentage (13-29) and the weather, but also ran three times for 19 yards.

No matter how many times I see Cal running back Jahvid Best play his speed still shocks me. I believe my exact words were, “Holy shit.” The Golden Bears were only down four at the half and had missed opportunities on several possessions.

I can’t give all the credit for the poor passing game to Nate Longshore, the talented USC defense had a hand in that as well. Taylor Mays and Kevin Ellison were head hunting the whole game and laid a few hits that brought ooh’s from the horrified home crowd. Alligator arms are a certainty when playing against the Trojan defense and Longshore will be unfairly blamed for a few incompletions.USC had great starting field position for much of this game.

Freshman Ronald Johnson returned four kick offs for 102 yards including one to midfield and another into Cal territory. From there senior running back Chauncey Washington took over. Finally healthy and academically eligible, Washington ran for a career high 220 yards to prove why he was so sought after in the same recruiting class as Bush and White.At times the Cal defense could not tackle Washington.

Cal’s talented group of linebackers were burned often by the bruising back who recorded just the fourth game of his career with over 100 yards rushing. Late in the third quarter Nate Longshore hit a wide open Lavelle Hawkins in the endzone to tie the game but Longshore’s two interceptions would mar an otherwise solid performance by the Golden Bears. Longshore’s inconsistency has been holding this team back, in my opinion.

USC ran the ball effectively in the fourth quarter driving down the field for the game winning score and managed to come away with the win despite not playing a great game. The Trojans talent allows them to win games like this and it’s a testament to their undisciplined style of play that they actually have two losses on the season.

A team with this many future NFL players shouldn’t struggle to get to a BCS bowl game, they should be number one the whole season. Does Pete Carroll need to take a more hard line approach with this team or will they grow up next year and fulfill our expectations?

The Rose Bowl is still a possibility for this team if Oregon reaches the national championship and something tells me, whether Michigan or Ohio State is the opponent, it will be another SC win.

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