For the third straight game in conference play, the Cal Golden Bears suffered a loss. The latest came at the hands of the USC Trojans, dropping Cal to 5-3 on the year and 2-3 in Pac-12 play after what looked to be a solid start to the season. Things started well for Cal with a 7-0 lead after one quarter of play, but USC went on to score the next 24 points in what would end up being a 27-21 loss for Cal.
Turnovers would once again be the story for Cal in a losing effort. Cal lost the football three times while the Trojans never gave it up. Cal quarterback Jared Goff was picked off twice in the game, including one huge play by USC’s dynamic Adoree’ Jackson. Jackson’s third-quarter interception was returned for a 46-yard touchdown play, pushing USC’s lead to 24-7 and taking even more wind out of the Cal offense. Goff did throw two touchdown passes as Cal attempted to come back from the big deficit, but there was no player on the offense that had a real huge game to help lift Cal’s chances of scoring a rare win against the Trojans.
The game ended up being a bit more balanced as the game played out, but the big difference in the game ended up being the decided turnover margin. It could have been worse though. Cal fumbled away the football on the third play of the game, but the defense stood firm and forced USC to punt after a three-and-out. Goff’s second interception in the second half gave the Trojans the ball at midfield, but USC pushed as close as the 29-yard line before turning the ball over on downs after Cal stuffed the Trojans on a fourth-and-one play. Down 27-14, Cal’s offense was unable to build off the momentum shift and lost two yards on the ensuing possession before having to punt the ball back to USC.
Game Ball: USC DB/WR Adoree’ Jackson
USC’s Adoree’ Jackson did a little bit of everything Saturday. He caught just two passes for 18 yards on offense, but his key interception return ended up being the game-winning score. He also had a 31-yard kickoff return to add to his stat line.
Around the Pac-12 North
Things got off to a wild start among Pac-12 North members on Thursday night with Oregon topping Arizona State in triple overtime, 61-55. The win by the Ducks actually keeps the defending Pac-12 champs in the Pac-12 North hunt entering November. It also puts the Ducks just one win away from becoming bowl eligible, a feat that at one time looked rather difficult. Of course, the top team everyone is chasing is Stanford. The Cardinals escaped Pullman with a 30-28 victory over Washington State Saturday night thanks to a 27-16 scoring advantage in the second half after trailing the Cougars 12-3 at halftime. Stanford remains undefeated in the Pac-12 at 6-0 and looks to be the conference’s strongest College Football Playoff contender, but difficult games remain against Oregon, Cal and Notre Dame. Washington ambushed Arizona Saturday, winning 49-3. Jake Browning had five touchdown passes in the blowout. Oregon State took a loss on the road at Utah, dropping to 0-5 in Pac-12 play. Utah improved to 4-1 in the Pac-12 and remains in the driver’s seat in the Pac-12 South.
After losing three straight, things will not get easier this week for the Golden Bears. Cal takes on Oregon on Saturday in Eugene. Oregon seems to have been revitalized after a midseason lull and injury concerns. Cal leads the all-time series with Oregon by a slight margin (37-35-1), but Oregon has won six straight meetings. The last time Cal managed to leave Oregon with a win was 2007. That was the only win for Cal in Eugene since 1987. Winning in Autzen Stadium is difficult, and Oregon may have rediscovered their identity at the worst possible time for a fading Cal.
Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.