(7) USC Trojans @ (24) California Golden Bears
Saturday, October 3, 8:00 p.m. ET
Sportsbook favorite: USC -5
The first thing most sports picks experts will examine is the battle between Cal’s strong offense and USC’s formidable defense. Though Cal got totally shut down in Oregon, it’s obviously a different story at home. Jahvid Best seems to be pushing for a Heisman nod; He averages 116.8 yards per game on the ground and 6.8 yards per carry, and he’s scored nine times in total through four games. He’s the focal point of California’s offense; Kevin Riley is a caretaker and a good one at that, as he has five touchdown passes versus no interceptions this season.
The Golden Bears have to hope Best catches fire and makes people miss on Saturday, as USC has one of the top defenses in the country. The Trojans average 10 points allowed per game and lead the nation with 18 sacks. Riley may feel the pressure and hand off to Best even more than normal and the Trojans may be waiting for him with eight-man fronts.
USC’s offense isn’t setting the world on fire but it’s respectable; Matt Barkley is a promising freshman pivot and isn’t making many mistakes so far. It stings to lose short-yardage sensation Stafon Johnson to his unfortunate accident, but Joe McKnight is the featured back. If last week’s game – in which Oregon ran for 236 yards and two scores against Cal – is any indication, McKnight is in for a big day.
Expect the Trojans to rally around injured Johnson; you get the feeling there’s no way they lose this one after what they’ve endured this week.
Betting services recommend: USC -5