Every USC game is key right now as the Trojans season is coming to an end. They can see the light at the end of the tunnel as they head into their second to last game of the season against the Cal Golden Bears. USC would like to finish on a high note as they are officially bowl eligible after their win against Arizona State. They will need to keep an eye on these three key matchups if they plan to dominate. 

Three Key USC Matchups Against Cal

Matchup #1: USC QB, Kedon Slovis vs. Cal QB, Chase Garbers 

Slovis, the USC freshman quarterback, is coming off of a huge game against Arizona State. He connected for four touchdowns for 279 yards in the first 15 minutes. Things started to slow down for ‘SC offensively after that, but it once again showed Slovis’ potential. For Saturday’s game, Slovis will have a more difficult time as they play against Cal, who is ranked as a top defense in the Pac-12 conference. 

Slovis will have to go head-to-head against the Cal QB, Chase Garbers. Garbers who has not played for 6 weeks after injuring his right shoulder is back and ready. His stats before his injury are impressive and enough to assume his return to the starting position. In his two games before his injury, he was 32-for-47 for 474 yards, recorded five touchdowns and only one interception. 

This USC matchup will test the Trojans’ offense. Both quarterbacks have suffered injuries this year and now that their season is on the line, the most resilient quarterback will get the upper hand. 

Matchup #2: USC RB, Kenan Christon vs. USC’s Offensive Coordinator

Unfortunately for USC, injuries prevail and have hurt their depth in running backs. Both Vavae Malepeai and Stephen Carr are still day-to-day and without an official return date. This leaves USC with the decision of whether they will have Kenan Christon play as an RB for Saturday’s game or keep him out to avoid losing his redshirt. This is a tough choice for ‘SC who will need help in the running game but that comes at the risk of Christon burning his redshirt.

Christon has been a big contributor for the Trojans. In USC’s 31-26 win over Arizona, Christon had two touchdowns on four catches for 82 yards. He’s also averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Christon was once a fourth or fifth-string player and has now become the Trojan’s only hope.

Following their win against Arizona, Christon said, “It doesn’t really matter too much. If I redshirt, it’s cool. If I don’t, even better. I just want to do what’s best for the team.”

Matchup #3: USC WR, Michael Pittman Jr. vs. Cal Safety, Ashytn Davis

Regardless of injuries, USC is heading into the game with the second-best passing game in the Pac-12 Conference, with a bunch of talented wide receivers. That includes Michael Pittman Jr.

Coming in at 6’4 and 220 pounds, he moves fast and has become one of the nation’s top pass catchers. In the Pac-12 conference, Pittman Jr. is first overall in receptions, first in total yards and yards per game. He’s also second in touchdowns. 

However, it won’t be so easy to have an effective offense when you have Ashtyn Davis on the field. Davis is a tedious safety who has recorded 49 tackles, one interception, two forced fumbles, and four pass breakups. Players like that look for teams that throw. And as Davis said, they use the opponent’s passing game to their advantage. 

USC will go against a hungry Cal team looking to improve their chances for a bowl game. If they want to continue their winning momentum they must keep an eye on these matchups on Saturday night. USC definitely has the offensive talent to crush those chances.

Cal Memorial Stadium. Photo Credit: Steve Shupe | Under Creative Commons License

Cal Memorial Stadium. Photo Credit: Steve Shupe | Under Creative Commons License

Leslie Torres-Valadez

Author Leslie Torres-Valadez

West coast sports nerd, with a love for east coast football.

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