LOS ANGELES -- Fresh off the heels of a 31-14 victory over Oregon State, USC (6-3 overall, 3-2 Pac-12) will travel to Berkeley this week to take on a struggling California (1-8 overall, 0-6 Pac-12) team on Saturday. The Golden Bears have dropped their last seven games under first-year coach Sonny Dykes with the team’s lone victory in 2013 coming over FCS Portland State. They did, however, show some renewed life in a tight 33-28 loss to Arizona this past weekend, and California’s Bear Raid offense gives the Trojans plenty to prepare for.
Scoring: 23.4 points per game (No. 12 Pac-12, No. 93 overall)
Rushing: 111.8 yards per game (No. 10 Pac-12, No. 110 overall)
Passing: 351.1 yards per game (No. 3 Pac-12, No. 8 overall)
Total: 462.9 yards per game (No. 6 Pac-12, No. 34 overall)
Quarterback: No. 16 Jared Goff (6-foot-4, 205 pounds, Fr.)
While Dykes and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin’s spread attack hasn’t quite taken off like it did during their tenure at Louisiana Tech, Goff has put up some huge numbers through the air. The freshman currently ranks No. 8 nationally with 320.1 passing yards per game, but he’s also gone through plenty of growing pains as well, throwing nine interceptions while also proving to be fumble-prone at times.
California has tried a number of different options at tailback, but none of the candidates have yet to seize the opportunity, and the run game has been largely ineffective. Lasco, who missed two games with a shoulder injury, returned against Arizona and showed promise in racking up 71 yards on the ground. Muhammad is a speedy multidimensional threat, while Gingold comes in at the bone position when California lines up in its Diamond formation -- a version of the pistol offense.
Wide Receiver: No. 6 Chris Harper (6-0, 180, So.), No. 1 Bryce Treggs (5-11, 180, So.), No. 4 Kenny Lawler (6-3, 185, RS Fr.), No. 5 Brendan Bigelow (5-10, 180, Jr.), No. 11 Richard Rodgers (6-4, 245, Jr.), No. 10 Darius Powe (6-3, 210, So.)
Goff has a pair of prolific receivers at his disposal in Harper, a big-play threat, as well as the ever-steady Treggs. The two have combined to amass 123 receptions. Lawler broke out against the Wildcats, hauling in six passes for 72 yards and three touchdowns.
Offensive Line: LT No. 76 Christian Okafor (6-6, 315, RS Fr.), LG No. 66 Chris Borrayo (6-5, 290, Fr.), C No. 73 Jordan Rigsbee (6-4, 310, RS So.), RG No. 71 Alejandro Crosthwaite (6-4, 290, RS Jr.), RT No. 64 Steven Moore (6-6, 285, RS Fr.)
Cal’s offensive line has been hit hard by injuries and has given up an average of 3.1 sacks per game -- the No. 112 mark in the FBS. The unit has struggled in the run game as well. This group, however, is coming off its best outing of the season after not allowing a sack against the Wildcats.
Scoring: 42.8 points per game (No. 12 Pac-12, No. 119 overall)
Rushing: 188.9 yards per game (No. 11 Pac-12, No. 88 overall)
Passing: 340.9 yards per game (No. 12 Pac-12, No. 123 overall)
Total: 529.8 yards per game (No. 12 Pac-12, No. 122 overall)
The Bears’ defense has been nothing less than woeful. Still, tackles Deandre Coleman and Viliami Moala have managed to stand out as the group’s most consistent contributors. But with just 15 sacks to the defense’s credit, there’s little doubt that Dykes would like to see more production out of the ends.
The linebacker corps misses the stability provided by Nick Forbes (out with a back injury) in a big way as their tackling and playmaking ability has left much to be desired. Fortt, who leads the team with 64 stops, went down with a strained bicep last weekend, but he is expected to be ready for USC.
Ranking dead last nationally in pass defense, the California secondary has been picked apart this season and have grabbed just four interceptions. They did come up with a stronger effort against Arizona, though, and Walker impressed with a 13-tackle performance.
Another group wracked by injuries, Dozier became the sixth different cornerback to start for the Bears. Jackson is likely the unit’s most talented cover man.
Punter: No. 16 Cole Leininger (6-1, 200, So.)
Leininger averages 42.8 yards per punt -- the No. 27 mark in the FBS.
Kicker: No. 13 Vincenzo D’Amato (6-1, 205, RS Sr.)
D’Amato is 14-of-17 on field goals with a long of 51 yards, while registering 15 touchbacks on 44 kickoffs.
Punt returner: No. 1 Bryce Treggs (5-11, 180, So.)
Treggs hasn’t been able to find any room to run, averaging just 1.8 yards per return.
Kick returner: No. 29 Khalfani Muhammad (5-8, 175, Fr.)
Muhammad averages 24.3 yards per kick return.