USC Football Hosts California In Thursday Night Clash|
Oct. 23, 2016
USC welcomes long-time foe California to the Coliseum for a Thursday night ESPN clash (just Troy’s fourth non-holiday Thursday game there, all since 2013 and the second against the Golden Bears). Overall anywhere on Thursdays, USC has won nearly 70% of the time. Because the game is on a school day, on-campus tailgating will not be allowed and parking will be restricted, but there are many alternatives available for fans (see USCTrojans.com/Thursday). USC has not lost to Cal since 2003 (the Bears have averaged just 15 points in those defeats) and not at home since 2000 (7 wins in a row in the Coliseum). It will be Troy’s 103rd meeting with the Golden Bears, the team it has played more than any opponent. USC, coming off a bye following its first road win of 2016 (at Arizona), is undefeated this year at home. The Trojans are playing one of the nation’s toughest schedules. All 3 of Troy’s losses in 2016 have been to AP Top 25 teams away from home. USC coach Clay Helton’s club is riding a 3-game winning streak after its 1-3 start, thanks to a revitalized offensive charge and a more aggressive defensive attack. Redshirt freshman QB Sam Darnold, who has thrown 11 TDs in the past 3 outings and is also USC’s most productive running quarterback in 25 years, is among the nation’s top signalcallers per various statistical measurements. WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, who caught 6 TDs during Troy’s recent win string with a trio of 100-yard efforts, continues his climb up the Trojan career Top 10 receiving chart. Young TBs Ronald Jones II and Aca’Cedric Ware showed well last game in expanded roles, running behind an offensive line that appears to now be playing up to its pre-season hype. USC’s defense, with 8 sacks and 8 takeaways in the past 3 victories while not allowing 400 total yards in any of those games, is getting inspired play throughout the unit. CB-WR-RET Adoree’ Jackson continues his knack for edge-of-your-seat plays on defense and special teams (he’s in the national Top 10 in punt returns and kickoff returns) while still looking to make his 2016 mark on offense. PK Matt Boermeester and P Chris Tilbey are starting to show how “special” they can be. Coach Sonny Dykes’ California squad, which outlasted Oregon in overtime at home last Friday, already has posted a win in Australia this year as well as a pair of victories over ranked teams. The Golden Bears’ potent pass-happy offense ranks in the national Top 10 in passing offense (second, 370.3), total offense (545.3) and scoring offense (43.7). Directing the attack is Texas Tech-transfer QB Davis Webb, who has 300-yard passing outings in 6 of 7 games this year and is second in the nation in passing TDs (27) and third in passing yards. Ex-Idaho State WR Chad Hansen is third nationally in receptions. True freshmen WRs Melquise Stovall and Demetris Robertson also see the ball often. RB Khalfani Muhammad is No. 9 nationally in all-purpose running and gets relief from RBs Tre Watson and Vic Enwere. The Bears’ defense, however, is in the nation’s bottom 10 in total defense, rushing defense and scoring defense. Top Cal defenders are LBs Raymond Davison and Devante Downs, S Khari Vanderbilt and DE Cameron Saffle. PK Matt Anderson is Top 20 in the country in field goal percentage, scoring and field goals. The schools will battle in men’s water polo on Saturday at USC.