A combination of missed opportunities by the Bears and an impressive showing by 13th-ranked USC dropped Cal to 1-3 on the season.
Cal looked like it had a chance early on when Steve Williams intercepted Matt Barkley in the end zone on USC's first drive, but the offense couldn't do anything with the ball, a problem that plagued them all day.
The Trojans looked fired up after being embarrassed by Stanford last week, and exerted their dominance on both sides of the ball. After relying heavily on the pass for the start of this season USC put the ball in the hands of Penn State transfer Silas Redd 21 times, and he took full advantage, running for 158 yards and a score. Curtis McNeal added 115 yards of his own as the Trojans put up 296 total rushing yards.
Barkley had a fine day, completing 22 of 34 passes for 192 yards and two TDs, both to star receiver Marquise Lee. Williams' early interception was one of two thrown by Barkley, as senior linebacker J.P. Hurrell also came down with a pick. Barkley also threw two long passes just out of reach of Lee and Robert Woods, keeping him short of an even more impressive performance, but that lack of big completions wouldn't stop the Trojans from recording 488 overall yards.
Zach Maynard and the Cal offense struggled to keep up with a motivated Trojan team, and were ultimately sunk by their inability to score a touchdown despite five red zone trips. Maynard had 172 yards (18-23) passing, but missed a few deep shots to Keenan Allen and his other receivers that kept the Bears short. Allen put together a nine-catch 93-yard performance against a stingy USC defense that allowed only him and Jacob Wark to catch more than one pass on the day.
Maynard did have a chance to show off his quickness on a number of designed runs, but also fell victim to USC's aggressive pass rush, which sacked him seven times on the day. Three sacks came in quick succession on Cal's last drive of the game, just as Maynard seemed to be finding some rhythm with his receivers.
Cal's running game, which kept them close with Ohio State last week, could not get anything going this time around. C.J. Anderson and breakout sophomore Brendan Bigelow each looked elusive at times, but the two combined for just 63 yards. Isi Sofele saw the most carries with eight, but was bottled up by the defense.
Although the Bears struggled to turn long drives into points, embattled kicker Vincenzo D'Amato had a promising performance, converting three of four field goals after missing all three of his attempts last week. He missed his first kick from 35 yards, but hit from 24, 26, and 35 later on in the game.
An area of concern going forward will be depth at tight end, as the list of injuries at the position kept growing. Jacob Wark walked off the field with an injury today, and although he did return, an already thin unit is looking even thinner.
The Bears will match up next week against Arizona State, which will be shown at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time on FX.