USC Football Hosts California In Thursday Night Game

    Leonard Williams and Anthony Sarao
    Nov. 9, 2014

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    November 9, 2013
    Berkeley, Calif.
    Agholor, Allen Lead USC to Win Over Cal, 62-28
    Nelson Agholor had two of Southern California's NCAA-record tying three punt returns for touchdowns and Javorius Allen scored three times to help the Trojans beat California for the 10th straight time, 62-28 on Saturday.

    Coming off a dominant win at Washington State and then a much-needed bye, USC now plays just its second-ever non-Thanksgiving/non-bowl Thursday game in the Coliseum when it hosts long-time foe California on Trojan Family Weekend. The game will air live in primetime on ESPN. The Trojans have won 70% of their Thursday games. Because the game is on a school day, on-campus tailgating and parking will not be allowed, but there are many alternatives available for fans (see This is USC's 101st meeting with California, the team it has played more than any opponent. Troy has not lost to the Golden Bears since 2003 (and not at home since 2000). USC's offense features a number of skill position players who are having outstanding seasons. QB Cody Kessler, among the nation's leaders in passing efficiency, completion percentage, TD passes and passing yards, is having the most efficient season of any Trojan quarterback ever (25 TDs and just 2 picks). Doak Walker Award candidate TB Javorius Allen, a 1,000-yard runner in 2014 who is sitting on a streak of 6 consecutive 100-yard rushing outings, continues to top the Pac-12 in rushing and all-purpose yards (he's on pace to be the first Trojan to lead the conference in rushing since 1989). Dual threat WR Nelson Agholor, with a school-record 4 career scoring punt returns, is in the national Top 20 in receptions, receiving yards and punt returns. USC has equally talented players on defense, including All-American DE Leonard Williams, who is a 2014 Lombardi and Bednarik semifinalist, plus ILB Hayes Pullard (Troy's tackle leader for a third season who has 350 career stops) and 2013 Freshman All-American S-turned-OLB Su'a Cravens. USC is in the national Top 25 in red zone defense, turnover margin and third down conversion defense and the Trojans have not allowed an opponent to score on its opening possession this season. Freshman All-American candidates CB Adoree' Jackson, WR JuJu Smith, OG-OT Toa Lobendahn and OG Viane Talamaivao are among 11 true freshmen who have played key roles this season, including 8 who have posted 36 starts. Depth, though, is an issue for head coach Steve Sarkisian because of NCAA-mandated scholarship limitations (no more than 57 recruited scholarship players have suited up for any game in 2014 and only 48 were on hand the past 2 games). Head coach Sonny Dykes brings in a California team with an explosive offense (averaging more than 500 yards and 40 points an outing), ranking in the national Top 11 in passing, scoring and total offense. The Golden Bears are coming off a bye after beating Oregon State to snap a 3-game season losing skid. QB Jared Goff is at the control of the Cal offense and is can be found in the nation's Top 15 ranking in passing yards, total offense and passing efficiency. His main targets are WRs Bryce Treggs, Stephen Anderson and Chris Harper, while RB Daniel Lasco is effective both running and catching the football. However, the Golden Bears' defense has been vulnerable, surrendering 525 yards and 40 points a game. USC's men's basketball, women's volleyball, men's water polo and men's and women's swimming teams compete at home this week, including hosting Cal in women's volleyball on Friday (Nov. 14) and in men's water polo on Saturday (Nov. 15).