USC football surges late, tops Cal in road opener

USC Trojans vs. California Golden Bears Preview and Prediction

After the No. 5-ranked Trojans' 30-20 win at Cal on Saturday, Nwosu has earned plaudits as USC's MVP, period; no qualifiers needed.

"We were playing to win", Wilcox said. Basically it comes down to however many plays we need to make, that's how many we need to make. USC only had to go 20 yards to set up a game tying kick. What does the game mean for the Trojans moving forward? Texas also bullied USC for much of the game, as the Trojans were unable to run the ball and instead relied on quarterback Sam Darnold (above, right) to win the game on the strength of his 397 passing yards and three touchdowns.

-QB Ross Bowers showed guts in the second half, including with his TD pass to Vic Wharton, but he'll have to improve his accuracy and competency throughout the game to stand a chance against USC.

Coming up next Reign of Troy Radio's USC podcast is the full fallout episode from the Cal game early in the week, plus a game preview for next Friday night's trip to Pullman, Wash., where the Trojans will take on the Washington State Cougars. They were tied with Western Michigan midway through the fourth quarter before pulling that one out, and they trailed Texas with just 45 seconds left in the fourth quarter before winning in double overtime. Helton went from interim coach to the full-time job after the regular season and let Wilcox go. If USC does not establish a comfortable lead early on and maintain it for the duration of the game, they may as well deliver the win to Cal on a silver platter.

Inside linebacker Devante Downs, who leads the Pac-12 in tackles, had 14 tackles, two sacks and an interception as the Bears shut out Ole Miss in the second half and held the Rebels to fewer than 100 yards after halftime. "You can see that team is developing an identity".

There is certainly familiarity among the coaches as Wilcox was USC's defensive coordinator in 2014 and 2015.

The Bears' style appears to be lifted from some other time, as well.

Wilcox conceded the game was decided by USC's ability to make plays when it mattered most.

Although there may be questions about how good these teams are this season, there is no uncertainty about which team has had the upper hand in this series.

The Bears, without a victory over the Trojans since 2003, were tied at 13-13 late in the third quarter when it all unraveled.

Cal does not have someone like Rodgers on its roster this year. And he offered no alibis for sophomore quarterback Ross Bowers, who had six turnovers.

Ronald Jones II and Stephen Carr are two extremely talented running backs and the tandem is one of the best in the nation.

But the Frogs answered, rallying for consecutive touchdown drives of 75 and 62 yards, capped by a 28-yard Darius Anderson and a 9-yard strike from Kenny Hill to John Diarse. USC averaged less than two yards per carry despite running it 37 times.

Darnold continued to struggle, rolling out of his pocket time and time again to launch arcing tosses to junior wide receiver Deontay Burnett that couldn't find their target. He sat out the MS game with an unspecified injury, and the Bears do not plan to update his status until Saturday. Rudolph's first two turnovers turned into TCU touchdowns, and his third came on a tipped pass on 4th-and-1 on Oklahoma State's last-gasp driving trailing 44-31.

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