Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Tucson Citizen: You've Gotta Like the Trojans

It's big game week in the Pac-10. Cal at USC. Winner wears the conference crown. Let's go . . . I like Cal because: Wide receiver DeSean Jackson will be the most explosive player on the field. He has 10 touchdowns this season that have covered at least 27 yards.  He's like Reggie Bush, except that he's even more productive on punt returns, with four going for scores this season.  "He's just had a magnificent year," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "He's done it with his route-running down the field, he's done it with the catch-and-run, and, of course, he's done it in the punt return game. He's giving them a lot."  I like USC because: The Trojans have the better defense. USC leads the conference in scoring defense (14.8 points per game) and total defense (290.1 yards per game).  They figure to make it hard on Cal quarterback Nate Longshore, who wasn't able to shoulder the burden of winning the game against Arizona last week.

"They are the best defense we have played against all year long," Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said of the Trojans.  I like Cal because: Running back Marshawn Lynch will be the second-most explosive player on the field. USC might be able to hold him to reasonably short gains most of the time, but if the Bears are persistent, Lynch will break off a long run sooner or later.  I like USC because: Its offensive line can control the game. The Trojans have two of the best offensive linemen in the country in tackle Sam Baker and center Ryan Kalil.  "To me, the line of scrimmage was the most impressive thing that they did," said Bellotti, whose team is coming off a 35-10 loss to USC. "They are not as explosive offensively (as in recent years), but, certainly, they are as powerful a team."  I like Cal because: Cornerback Daymeion Hughes and middle linebacker Desmond Bishop can make a big play at any time.  I like USC because: The Trojans have won 31 consecutive games at home and are 18-0 in November under Pete Carroll.

Basically, I like USC.  Cal might have peaked with a 45-24 win over Oregon on Oct. 7. USC is playing its best ball of the season.  I like USC 28-20.

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