Preview: Cal takes on USC in 2021 Finale
It has been a couple years since Cal and USC met on the Memorial Stadium turf, and the Bears look to end their season on a high note despite not being able to make it to a bowl game. USC is in a bit of limbo, having hired Lincoln Riley Sunday, not being bowl eligible, and playing for coaches who may not be on staff come Sunday.
For Cal, it's one final go-around for the seniors at home, in a game originally scheduled for November 13th.
Where: California Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, CA
When: 8 PM, December 4th, 2021
TV: Fox Sports One
Radio: KGO 810 AM
Spread/Line: Cal -2.5
- This marks the Joe Roth Memorial Game, where the Bears will wear their 70s era throwbacks to honor Roth, whose number 12 is the only number retired by Cal Football
- Cal will honor 28 players for senior day: Nick Alftin, Luc Bequette, Marqez Bimage, Christopher Brooks, Trevon Clark, Kekoa Crawford, Valentino Daltoso, Marcel Dancy, Kuony Deng, Josh Drayden, Daniel Etter, Chase Garbers, Ryan Glover, Cameron Goode, Elijah Hicks, Matt Horwitz, Isaiah Humphries, Collin Moore, Sami Nazzal, Nico Ramos, Gavin Reinwald, Nikko Remigio, Robby Rowell, Daniel Scott, Branden Smith and Jake Tonges, as well as student assistant coaches Michael Saffell and Gentle Williams. Some of this group has the option to return for 2022 thanks to a COVID year of eligibility.
- Cal will also honor Bud 'Dog' Turner, a longtime member of Cal's support staff who had been in every aspect of football operations at Cal. Turner has a plaque and replica fist at the top of the stairs leading to Cal's locker room, as Cal players used to fist-bump Turner on their way into practice, while he told them 'Great day to be a Bear.'
- Cal will honor their 1991 Citrus Bowl team, who finished 10-2 under Bruce Snyder and defeated Clemson 37-13 in Cal's most recent trip to a New Year's Day bowl game.
- Cal will also honor three recipients of grants from safety Elijah Hicks' Intercept Poverty Foundation.
Out: LT Will Craig
Doubtful: OLB Kuony Deng, WR Justin Baker
Day to Day: WR Jeremiah Hunter
Out: QB Kedon Slovis, WR Drake London
Questionable: RB Keaontay Ingram, OT Courtland Ford, OT Jalen McKenzie
Of note: CB Chris Steele, CB Isaac Taylor-Stuart, OLB Drake Jackson, TE Jude Wolfe and DB Jaylin Smith missed practice Wednesday. Jackson and Steele have previously been injured.
Players to Watch
C Matthew Cindric - Cal struggled with pressure up the middle against UCLA, and it'll be up to Cindric and company to take a step back up against a USC defense that may mimic what worked a week ago
CB Lu-Magia Hearns - Cal's true freshman corner will have his hands full with the emerging Gary Bryant Jr. and Tahj Washington in his sights. Hearns has played above his age at this point, but will need one more strong game to cap off an encouraging freshman year.
OLB Cameron Goode - Goode will play his final game in a Cal uniform, with an opportunity against USC, who may not have either of their starting offensive tackles in Ford and McKenzie
WR Trevon Clark - Clark did not have a catch against UCLA, and the Bears will need to get their top deep threat back into action after the Bears couldn't get anything over the top against the Bruins
QB Jaxson Dart - Dart has had some moments as a true freshman, subbing in for Kedon Slovis with the latter being injured over the final portion of the season. Dart is accurate, making a massive jump as a senior in high school to now.
DL Tuli Tuipulotu - Tuipulotu has emerged as a tackle for loss threat off the edge for the Trojans, having been one of the most consistent defensive linemen for a defense that has been anything but.
WR Gary Bryant Jr. - With Drake London out, Bryant has seen a bigger role, more passes thrown his way, and he has produced when called upon. He'll line up more in the slot, but he can do damage on the outside as well.
ILB Kana'i Mauga - USC's most productive tackler and someone Justin Wilcox made special note of in discussing the Trojans.
Keys to the Game
Change the Picture - When Cal has had success against the Air Raid, they've been able to change what the opposing quarterback is seeing pre-snap. With a younger QB in Dart, Cal needs to make reads difficult early on
Run the dang ball - Chris Brooks has been effective over the previous few weeks when tasked with the job, and the Bears have to feed him a little more, controlling pace on offense against a team whose offense can score quickly when needed.
Come out strong - For the third time all year, Cal didn't score in the first quarter against UCLA, and getting on the board early against a USC outfit that can put points on the board is an absolute must.
Cal 31, USC 24