clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Under The Hood: California @ USC

New, comments

We?ve already previewed the biggest of the big games this weekend, but there?s a showdown out west that will determine the Pac 10 championship and affect the national title picture. If fans have any emotional capital left to spend after the 3:30 Michigan-Ohio State game, they?ll get to enjoy another big time matchup in the form of Cal at USC. Let?s get right into it; analysis to follow statistical overview:

Cal margin of victory: +14.6 points
USC margin of victory: +17.2 points

California's opponents have a combined record of: 45-38
USC's opponets have a combined record of: 45-33
As another rough guide, Jeff Sagarin lists California's strength of schedule as 4th toughest in the country and USC's as 2nd toughest.

How are these two teams performing statistically? Below are tables of each team's season totals, with national rank in parentheses.



California By The Numbers: Offense





USC By The Numbers: Defense


California By The Numbers: Defense


The next, final, step, is to put those numbers into context. The following chart shows the national rank in total offense and total defense for each of USC and California's 2006 opponents.

USC-California Opponents' Positional Ranks
USC By The Numbers: Offense
Rush YPG Rush YPC Rush TD Pass YPG Pass YPA Pass TD QB Rating Total Offense Scoring Offense
148.8 (47) 4.43 (34) 15 (47) 247.2 (21) 7.3 (45) 21 (23) 140.9 (30) 396 (22) 32 (18)
Rush YPG Rush YPC Rush TD Pass YPG Pass YPA Pass TD QB Rating Total Offense Scoring Offense
164.4 (34) 4.89 (16) 16 (37) 266.4 (12) 8.3 (16) 22 (19) 146.7 (22) 430.8 (10) 34.7 (9)
Rush YPG Rush YPC Rush TD Pass YPG Pass YPA Pass TD Total Defense Scoring Defense
91.3 (13) 2.95 (17) 5 (6) 198.8 (63) 6.1 (27) 7 (12) 290.1 (20) 14.8 (14)
Rush YPG Rush YPC Rush TD Pass YPG Pass YPA Pass TD Total Defense Scoring Defense
128.2 (48) 3.91 (58) 11 (50) 250.3 (112) 7.6 (92) 12 (51) 378.5 (93) 20.1 (46)
Total Offense Rank USC Opponent Total Defense Rank -- Total Offense Rank California Opponent Total Defense Rank
20
@Arkansas
22
--
36
@Tennessee
54
9
Nebraska
77
--
46
Minnesota
108
115
@Arizona
45
--
N/A
Portland St.
N/A
25
Washington State
79
--
40
Arizona St.
46
83
Washington
91
--
54
@Oregon St.
31
40
Arizona St.
46
--
5
Oregon
26
54
@Oregon State
31
--
25
@Washington State
79
118
@Stanford
102
--
83
Washington
91
5
Oregon
26
--
67
UCLA
38
--
--
--
--
115
@Arizona
45
41.0
Average
57.6
--
52.3
Average
57.6

Charts? Charts.

To the mats with the numbers:

*Pretty much the only thing USC hasn't been above average at this year is running the football. Fortunately for them, Cal's defense has been very average defending the run this year. And, of course, atrocious against the pass. I hear a lot of barking about Daymeion Hughes and what a muffin he is, but Cal's secondary is getting sodomized. Sounds like a little bit of Aaron Ross over-hypeage. (Sigh...)

*USC's defense is good. Not dominant, but very solid - across the board. At least on paper, the Trojans enjoy an enormous advantage here. Cal's offense looks a little more explosive than USC's, but the defensive advantage for USC looks decisive. If there's one area USC has struggled at times, it's with gritty defenses that don't cede many yards. Cal certainly isn't playing defense like that.

*We should also note that USC's compiled dramatically better defensive numbers against better offensive competition. The more you look at this, the more you worry for Cal.

*If you concede that USC is better statistically, and probably has the slight edge in talent, too, you're left with coaching (no better than a wash for Cal) and special teams. I get the feeling that a California upset would have to involve some big plays on special teams. A blocked kick or DeSean Jackson score - something like what Oregon State got.

*The one area USC can be attacked a little bit is down the field, but Nate Longshore isn't passing very well. Further, Cal's at its best when they're riding high on Marshawn Lynch. Doesn't look like USC's likely to give Lynch much room to get going.

*I predicted a 30-20 victory in my weekly picks, and that seems about right. The Trojans are at home, and I won't be surprised by a double-digit victory, barring some craziness.

[Previous "Under The Hood" Articles: Wisconsin / Rutgers / Kansas State / Michigan-Ohio State]

--PB--