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    USC Football Faces California On Thursday In San Francisco
    Nick Perry vs. California in 2010.
    Nick Perry vs. California in 2010.

    Oct. 9, 2011

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    USC returns to the road after a bye for the first of 2 straight away games (in fact, 3 of the next 4 are on the road) as it makes its annual Bay Area trek. Troy faces California in the 99th meeting between the teams (USC has played the Golden Bears more than any opponent), but this one will be on a Thursday night (a rare non-Thanksgiving/non-bowl Thursday game for the Trojans) and will take place in San Francisco's 45,000-seat AT&T Park while Cal's Memorial Stadium in Berkeley is being renovated. Although USC hasn't played in San Francisco very often, it is familiar with AT&T Park, having visited there for the 2009 Emerald Bowl. The Trojans have played more than 50 football games in baseball stadiums, by the way. USC owns a 7-game winning streak over the Golden Bears (Cal has averaged just 10 points in each of those losses) and Troy also has captured 9 of the last 10.

    USC, which outlasted Arizona in a shootout in its last game, features 2 of the nation's premier offensive players in QB Matt Barkley (he is fifth on USC's career passing and total offense lists and this season has set school single game records for passing completions, yards and TDs and total offense) and off-the-charts WR Robert Woods (he leads the nation in receptions and is third in all-purpose running while being on pace to shatter the school single season receptions and receiving yardage records). Those 2 honors candidates are joined on the offensive unit by the likes of power TB Marc Tyler (he has a pair of 100-yard games in 2011), precocious freshman WR Marqise Lee and pre-season All-American OT Matt Kalil.

    The Trojan defense, which started 2011 on fire but has surrendered lots of yards and points the past 2 games, includes veteran players such as S T.J. McDonald (another pre-season All-American), DE Nick Perry and LB Chris Galippo and promising youngsters like CB Nickell Robey and LBs Dion Bailey and Hayes Pullard. Frosh PK Andre Heidari has been an on-the-money kicker.

    It's the second straight Thursday night game for California, which started off 2011 at 3-0 but has dropped its last 2 outings, including at Oregon last week. Golden Bear head coach Jeff Tedford will be matched against his former pupil and assistant at Fresno State, USC head coach Lane Kiffin. Cal's passing offense is in the national Top 25 and its defense that is in the Top 15 nationally in sacks and tackles for losses. WRs Keenan Allen, sixth nationally in receiving yards and 11th in receptions, and Marvin Jones, who topped the Cal in receptions and receiving yards the past 2 seasons, are the top targets of new starting QB Zach Maynard. The Bears' defensive leaders include LBs Mychal Kendricks and D.J. Holt and S Sean Cattouse.

    The game will be shown live nationally on ESPN, including on ESPN 3D. The Trojans and Bears also battle in men's water polo on Saturday in Berkeley.