Oct. 6, 2002
This Week's Game
After upsetting 12th-ranked Washington in Seattle last Saturday, California remains on the road this week when the Golden Bears visit No. 20 USC.
Although the task ahead may be a daunting one - the Trojans are the fourth nationally ranked team Cal will have faced so far this year - the Bears appear to be up for the challenge. Not only has Cal defeated two Top 15 squads on the road for the first time in school history - Washington (34-27) and Michigan State (46-22) - but it has won its last three meetings at USC. In addition, Cal has claimed its past three contests outside of Berkeley, dating back to a 20-10 win at Rutgers last November - the first time the Bears have accomplished that feat during the regular season since 1991, when they beat Arizona, UCLA and Oregon State in succession.
Cal's opportunistic 2002 team boasts a +13 turnover margin and has scored 70 points off turnovers, including 13 against the Huskies last Saturday.
Senior QB Kyle Boller has played the largest role in the Bears' resurgent offense. To date, he has completed 55.8 percent of his attempts for 1,478 yards and 16 TDs with just four interceptions. In the UW game, he averaged 20.5 yards per completion, including a career-high five scoring passes. As a result, Boller has positioned himself to become Cal's all-time leader in TD tosses. He enters the USC match-up with 52, just two behind record-holder Pat Barnes, who threw for 54 TDs from 1993-96.
The defense, which seems to have assumed a bend-but-don't-break attitude, is led by senior rover Nnamdi Asomugha, who has lined up at both safety and cornerback. In a typical effort vs. Washington, he had four tackles, a fumble recovery, an interception and fell on an on-sides kick, all while covering wideout Reggie Williams much of the afternoon.
Although USC leads the overall series, 55-29-5 (.646), Cal has won three consecutive games over the Trojans in Los Angeles: 22-15 in 1996, 32-31 in '98 and 28-16 in 2000. The 1996 victory broke a 26-year winless streak for the Bears in the L.A. Coliseum. Last year in Berkeley, USC spotted Cal a 7-0 advantage before rolling to a 55-14 triumph.
A Quick Look at USC
USC enters this week's game rated 20th in the Associated Press poll. The Trojans' have two losses this season, a 27-20 non-conference decision at Kansas State and a 30-27 overtime loss at Washington State. On Sept. 28, USC pitched a 22-0 shutout against an Oregon State team that entered the game second in the nation in total offense with 499.8 ypg. USC is ranked No. 11 in the nation in scoring defense, only allowing 15.4 ppg. USC QB Carson Palmer's 9,083 yards of total offense has surpassed Rodney Peete to become USC's career leader in that category.
Jeff Tedford, California (Fresno State '83) is in his first season as head coach of the Golden Bears, taking over as the program's 32nd head coach last December. Tedford, 4-2 as a head coach, arrived at Cal after four highly successful seasons at Oregon, where he served as offensive coordinator and helped the Ducks to a combined 38-10 record, including an 11-1 mark last fall when Oregon won the Pac-10 championship and earned a No. 2 national ranking. Tedford began his coaching career in 1989 as an offensive assistant with the CFL's Calgary Stampeders. In 1992, he returned to his alma mater, Fresno State, as quarterback coach. A year later, he was elevated to offensive coordinator, a position he held through 1997. A native of Downey, Calif., Tedford was a record-setting quarterback as a player at Fresno State, graduating with a degree in physical education in 1983.
Pete Carroll, USC (Pacific '73) is in his second season as head coach at USC. He owns a 6-7 overall record after guiding the Trojans to a fifth-place Pac-10 finish with a 5-3 record in the conference slate last season. A native of San Francisco, Carroll started his coaching career at his alma mater, Pacific, where he was a graduate assistant from 1974-76. After stops at Arkansas, Iowa State, Ohio State, North Carolina State and a return to Pacific, he moved to the pro ranks as defensive backs coach with the Minnesota Vikings in 1985. Carroll then served as defensive coordinator with the New York Jets from 1990-93 and as head coach (6-10) there in 1994. He was defensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers for two seasons, then compiled a 27-21 record as head coach at New England from 1997-99.
IKON Office Solutions Play of the Week
Each week throughout the 2002 football season, IKON Office Solutions salutes the Golden Bear Play of the Week. For the Washington game, Cal jumped to a 7-0 first-quarter lead on a flea-flicker, with QB Kyle Boller hitting WR Jonathan Makonnen for a 40-yard TD pass.
The Times Player of the Game
Each week throughout the 2002 football season, the Contra Costa Times will recognize the Cal Player of the Game. For the Washington game, QB Kyle Boller completed 13-of-24 passes for 266 yards and 5 touchdowns with no interceptions.
One of College Football's Cinderella Stories of '02, Cal Rises from the Ashes to Earn National Credibility
Not only has California rebounded dramatically from last year's 1-10 debacle, the Bears have established themselves as a nationally respected program and Pac-10 contender almost overnight. In the Associated Press poll this year, they were ranked 23rd on Sept. 15 and received 80 votes-29th most in the nation-this week. In winning its fourth game of the season last weekend, California has registered as many victories this year as it had in the previous two years combined (1-10 in '01 and 3-8 in '00). What's more, the Bears have come oh-so-close to being unbeaten through their first six games. Their two losses have come by a combined total of 12 points, with Tedford's team in a position to win both games in the late going. In the 23-21 setback to unbeaten Air Force Sept. 21, a two-point conversion try went awry when a Kyle Boller-to-Joe Igber pass was batted away at the last second with only 31 seconds left on the clock-a play that probably would have sent the game into overtime if successful. Then a week later, Cal settled for a game-tying field goal (38-38) by Mark Jensen with 7:33 remaining in the game against nationally No. 16 ranked Washington State, the Pac-10 pre-season favorite. The Cougars rallied with 10 points down the stretch to avoid a Bear upset.
Three Epic Streaks Come to an End in Seattle, as Bears Score 2nd Road Upset over Top 15 School This Year
Three monumental streaks came to a crashing halt last Saturday at Husky Stadium. By virtue of its stirring 34-27 victory over No. 12 Washington, Cal stopped 26 years of utter futility by ending the Huskies' 19-game win streak against the Bears. It was Cal's first triumph over the Dawgs since 1976, when Joe Roth and the Bears edged UW, 7-0, in Seattle. The victory also marked the first time California has won in the state of Washington since a 45-13 win at Washington State, as the Bears had lost 10 in a row in Pullman against WSU and nine straight to the Huskies before Saturday's verdict. And to score a hat trick, Cal's win also stopped a 17-game home victory skein for Washington at Husky Stadium. In beating the Huskies, the 2002 Bears become the first team in Cal history to post two road victories over Top 15 opponents in the same year. In fact, since national rankings started in 1936, Cal has beaten two Top 15 foes in the same regular season-home or away-only once previously. That occurred in 1951, when Pappy Waldorf's club topped No. 6 Oregon State, 35-14, in Berkeley and bested No. 3 Stanford, 20-7, in Palo Alto. Actually, California did turn the trick one other time in 1937, but the second Top 15 conquest did not occur in the regular season-coming in the postseason, a 13-0 win over No. 4 Alabama in the Rose Bowl.
Trojans' Nationally No. 4 Ranked Defense Squares off against Cal Offense That Averages 40.5 PPG
Talk about an about-face, the 2002 Cal Bears have already outscored last year's team by 42 points. Cranking out 40.5 points per game to rank ninth in NCAA scoring, the Bears have cashed in 30 touchdowns and 243 points in their first six games of the season. In comparison, last year's Cal squad tallied 24 TDs and 201 points total over an 11-game schedule. In fact, Jeff Tedford's club has rattled 34 points or more in five of its six outings this year. A year ago, the Bears didn't score 34 points even once all year (season high: 28 points twice, vs. Washington and at Stanford). The Bears may meet their match this weekend in LA, where the nation's No. 4 defense resides at USC. Led by strong safety Troy Polamalu, a 2002 Thorpe Award candidate, the Trojans' defense ranks fourth in total defense (267.2), seventh in pass defense (143.8) and 11th in scoring defense (15.4 ppg) among all Division I-A schools. Perhaps the most sobering stat for coach Tedford and Cal offensive coordinator George Cortez to mull over: USC's defense is allowing opponents to convert only 15.6% of their third-down conversions (best in the Pac-10) and none of its fourth downs.
Cal Seeks to Win 4th Straight over Trojans at L.A. Coliseum, Continue Recent Trend vs. SoCal Schools
California's Golden Bears have clawed their way to three straight victories at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in the Cal-USC series, a streak that began in 1996 when a first-year coach named Steve Mariucci led his troops to a 22-15 win over the Trojans. While USC (55-29-5) and UCLA (46-24-1) own sizeable edges over Cal in the two schools' all-time series records, the Bears have fared quite well in recent years against their cross-state rivals. Cal, which traditionally features many players from the Southland, had won four straight games against the SoCal schools entering last season, but the Bears were walloped by both UCLA (56-17 at Pasadena) and USC (55-14 at Berkeley) last fall. Cal has still won five of it last eight meetings with its intrastate foes and boasts a 4-2 record in its last six outings vs. USC, including three wins in its last four games. In the last four years, the Bears have accumulated 24 sacks against the Trojans, including six in 1998, nine in '99 and seven in '00. Cornerback Jemeel Powell, Cal's top punt returner (12.2 avg.) and Pac-10 co-interception leader (3) this year, enjoyed perhaps his best game as a collegian against USC in 2000. He stacked up five unassisted tackles, broke up three passes, intercepted a pass, and returned four punts for 138 yards-including a dazzling 83-yard TD punt return in the fourth quarter
Bears Boast +13 Turnover Ratio After 5 Weeks to Rank 4th Nationally
Although they have been raked for a combined 1,019 yards and 75 points by the high-powered offenses of Washington State and Washington during the past two weeks, the Golden Bears continue to be one of the nation's best in the all-important turnover department. Thus far in 2002, Cal has forced 19 turnovers and committed only six for a TO ratio of +13-the fourth best margin (+2.17 per game) in NCAA Division I-A. The Bears lived on the other side of the turnover ledger in 2001, finishing 114th out of 115 schools with a woeful -17 figure. The club's 19 takeaways this fall are already one more than Cal managed all of last season. Included in that total are 11 fumble recoveries this year-second most in the nation (one behind tri-leaders Pittsburgh, TCU and Virginia)-which also is one more than last season's entire output. The TO wars have been particularly telling in first halves this year, when the bend-but-don't-break Bears have coughed up only one turnover all year in posting a collective +14 mark during the first 30 minutes of their games.
Quick-Start Bears Have Outscored Foes by Eye-Bulging 142-38 Margin in First Halves This Year
Roaring out of the gates like few others, the new-and-improved Cal Bears have feasted on 2002 opponents in the first half this year. The Bears, who clung to a modest 21-16 edge at halftime last week at Washington, have outscored their foes by a whopping 142-38 margin through their first six games. Cal has been particularly lethal in first quarters this year, outscoring its opponents, 76-23, in opening periods this season. However, for the first time year, the Bears were outpointed in the opening period Saturday, as the Huskies led, 10-7, at the quarter break. Second quarters have also been good to the Berkeley club, holding a 66-15 edge. Cal owned a 38-0 mark in second stanzas through its first four games, but Washington State became the first opponent to get on the board in the second quarter by scoring nine points two weeks ago and Washington tallied six more points Saturday. While Jeff Tedford's squad has been lights out in the first two quarters, they have been outscored 63-30 in third periods this year (thanks mostly to a 29-7 meltdown in the third quarter against Washington State Sept. 28).
Boller Seizes 4th Place on Cal's Passing Yardage List
Shredding Washington's defense for 266 yards and a career-high five touchdown passes in propelling Cal to its second road upset win over a Top 15 team, senior Kyle Boller is fast becoming one of the nation's premier quarterbacks. Averaging a robust 20.5 yards per completion Saturday-13 completions on 24 attempts-Boller continues to zoom up Cal's all-time passing charts. With five scoring strikes in Seattle, he now has 52 touchdown passes for his career, which ranks second in Cal annals and within two of Pat Barnes' school record of 54. Boller also bypassed Gale Gilbert (6,566, 1980-84) into fourth place on the Bears' career passing yardage list last weekend, with his current 6,643 total trailing No. 3 Rich Campbell by 535 yards. Boller has now thrown at least one TD pass in eight consecutive games, a streak that started after being shut out Nov. 10 in a 55-14 loss to USC last year at Memorial Stadium. In 2002, Boller has threaded 55.8% of his attempts (111-199) for 1,478 yards, career-best 16 touchdowns and four interceptions through six games. That amounts to a 140.68 passing efficiency rating, which ranks 31st among NCAA quarterbacks. The Bear signal-caller has also contributed to 20 TDs this year-an average of 3.3 per game-also rushing for three scores and catching a pass for another touchdown. His 20.0 points per game ranks first in the Pac-10 and fourth nationally in Points Responsible For. Some of Boller's success should be credited to Cal's reconstructed offensive line, which has allowed a Pac-10 low six sacks in six games this year. A year ago, that figure was more than triple with 19 sacks yielded. While Boller is one of the hottest QBs in country, he hasn't fared particularly well against the Trojans in his career. In three previous meetings, he's completed only 43.4% (23-of-53) of his passes and averaged only 124.3 yards through the air.
Banta-Cain Climbs into 6th Place on Cal's Career Sack List
Held sackless for two straight weeks, Cal senior end Tully Banta-Cain snapped his personal drought with one sack of Washington's Cody Pickett last Saturday. The sack gives him 20.5 career sacks, thrusting him past three Bears (Natu Tuatagaloa, Sekou Sanyika and Joel Dickson) into sixth place on the school's all-time list. Now he can set his sights on No. 5 Ron Rivera, perched in fifth place with 22.0 sacks. With seven sacks thus far in '02, Banta-Cain ranks second in the Pac-10.
Bears Lead Pac-10 in Red Zone Offense, Scoring on 25 of 26 Opportunities
The Bears continue to lead the Pac-10 in red zone offense, having converted 25 of 26 scoring opportunities (96.2%) inside the opponent's 20-yard line this year with 16 TDs and nine field goals. Conversely, opponents have scored on only 14 of 20 (70%) red zone chances. Cal's early season red zone success is one of three offensive categories the Bears have excelled in that's reminiscent of Tedford's Oregon team last year. Cal has also committed only six turnovers-third fewest in the nation-this season and has allowed Boller to be sacked only six times. In 2001, Tedford's Ducks turned the ball over a NCAA-low 11 times and led the Pac-10 in both fewest sacks (11) and best red zone offense (37-of-39, 94.9%).
McArthur, Makonnen & Ward Form Cal's WR Triumvirate
Cal's wide receiving corps has been upgraded considerably from last year, with sophomore Geoff McArthur leading the charges with 30 receptions for 359 yards and one touchdown. He has hauled in seven passes three times this season (vs. Baylor, Michigan State and Washington State). Other key pass-catchers this year include City College of San Francisco transfer Jonathan Makonnen (26 for team-high 407 yards, 4 TDs) and senior LaShaun Ward, who has clawed 18 passes for 312 yards and a club-high five TDs. Senior tight end Tom Swoboda, who caught six passes in a game twice this year (vs. Washington State and New Mexico State), has nabbed 14 passes for 139 yards and three TDs thus far. His 14 receptions almost equal the combined 16 catches made by the entire tight end group all of last year.
Igber Soars to 4th Place on Cal's All-Time Rushing List with 2,531 Yards
Joe Igber seems to make news virtually every week this year, as he continues to inch upwards on the Bears' all-time rushing chart. Last Saturday, he barreled inside for 92 hard-earned yards on 31 carries against Washington, and has now rushed for 203 yards on 51 attempts against the Washington schools in his first two Pac-10 games this season. Igber has cranked out eight 100-yard rushing performances in his career-the fourth most in Cal history-trailing only Russell White and Chuck Muncie, who both rushed for 100 yards 15 times, and the late John Olszewski, who accomplished the feat on 10 occasions. After six weeks of 2002, Igber has rushed for 537 yards on 121 carries-the third-best yards-per-game average (89.5) in the Pac-10-to boost his career total to 2,531 yards. His 537 yards this season already eclipses his entire output of last year, when he rushed for only 399 yards on 94 carries before missing the Bears' final four games with a fractured clavicle. His workmanlike effort Saturday vaulted him past Olszewski (2,504, 1950-52) into fourth place on Cal's all-time list, 399 yards shy of No. 3 Paul Jones (2,930). In addition, the diminutive Igber has shot into Cal's career Top 10 in all-purpose yardage with 3,149, the seventh-highest total in school annuals. With 158 more all-purpose yards, he will zip ahead of Dwight Garner (3,307, 1982-85) into No. 6.
Tedford's 2002 Club Eyeing One of Biggest Turnarounds in School History When you finished last season with the worst record (1-10) by a Cal team in 104 years, you know there's only one way to go ... up. But with their impressive 4-2 start, Tedford's Bears have a chance to produce one of the biggest one-year turnarounds in school history. They have already bettered last year's mark by three games, which is the best one-year turnaround at Cal since Keith Gilbertson's 1993 team posted a 9-4 mark following a 4-7 record the following year. The greatest one-year flip by a Cal team came in 1947, when a man named Lynn "Pappy" Waldorf assumed the head coaching reins and promptly led his Golden Bears to a 9-1 record-a six-and-a-half game improvement from the previous season (2-7 in '46 under Frank Wickhorst).
Cal Features Many Players, Coaches from SoCal
As has been the norm for many years, the Cal football program is bloated with Southern California refugees. No less than 48 Golden Bear football student-athletes have called or do call the Southland their home. The most accomplished include QB Kyle Boller, the 1998 California State Player of the Year at Newhall's Hart High School; rover Nnamdi Asomugha, a first team all-state performer at Los Angeles' Narbonne High; CB and return specialist Jemeel Powell, a football/track star at Los Angeles' Serra High; and WR Geoff McArthur, who was named the Los Angeles Times' Westside High School Player of Year at Pacific Palisades High after catching 91 passes for 1,779 yards (a state mark) and 28 TDs in 1999. On the sidelines, Cal coaches who hail from SoCal include head coach Jeff Tedford, who played QB at Warren High in Downey and later at Cerritos College; WR coach Eric Kiesau, born in Pasadena and later coached at Moorpark High and Glendale CC; and defensive coordinator Ken Delgado, the former defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at San Diego State.
Trojans Feature 8 Players, 5 Coaches with NorCal Roots
There will be at least 13 members of USC who should be familiar with the tradition of Cal football, as eight Trojan players and five Southern California coaches have ties to Northern California. The student-athletes include cornerbacks Kevin Arbet (Stockton, St. Mary's HS), Ronald Nunn (San Mateo, CC San Francisco) and Marcus Johnson (Sacramento, Sacramento CC), safety Matt Lemos (Redwood City, St. Francis HS), defensive end Omar Nazel (Oakland, Skyline HS), and wide receivers Grant Mattos (Mountain View, Foothill CC), Williams Buchanan (Stockton, St. Mary's) and D. Hale (Sacramento, Hiram Johnson HS). The USC coaching staff's Bay Area connection starts with head coach Pete Carroll, a San Francisco native who became a three-sport star at Redwood High School in Larkspur. Carroll later attended the University of the Pacific, twice earning All-Pacific Coast Conference honors at free safety, and also served as defensive coordinator for the NFL's San Francisco 49ers in 1995-96. Other SC coaches from Norcal: Greg Burns (attended San Jose State), Tim Davis (Castro Valley HS), Nick Holt (Bellarmine Prep in San Jose) and Brennan Carroll (Saratoga HS).
Jensen Emerges as One of Pac-10's Top Kickers
Always a consistent performer, Cal's senior Mark Jensen has suddenly emerged as one of the country's most prolific kickers in 2002. The Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week three weeks ago when he reeled off a school-record five field goals in a 23-21 loss to Air Force, the Bears' senior currently ranks third in the Pac-10 and 15th nationally in kick scoring with 61 points (10.17 per game). He has nailed 11 of 14 FG attempts and 28-for-28 in PATs, and boomed a career-best 51-yard FG at Michigan State Sept. 14. With his scoring onslaught this year, Jensen has quickly moved into the school's career Top 10 in scoring. His current 198 points rank seventh on the list, with former Heisman Trophy runner-up Chuck Muncie (224 points, 1973-75) his next target.
The One-Year Switcheroo: Cal Takes Dramatic Turn for the Better in '02
Very few college football programs have undergone such positive one-year transformations the likes of California. After six games last year, the Bears were saddled with a 0-6 record and were being outdistanced by an average score of 45.7 points to 17.5 points. Six games into this season, Cal sports its best start (4-2) since 1998 and is outscoring its opponents by a eye-popping margin 14.7 points (40.5 to 25.8).
Led by Special Teams, Bears Uncorking a Bushel of Big Plays in Early Season
Another contributing factor to Cal's mercurial start has been the big play. In their first six games, the Bears have unleashed no less than 12 plays that have measured 50 yards and beyond. Special teams have paved the way, churning out significant chunks of yardage with regularity. Cal currently ranks first in kickoff return average (23.7) and fourth in punt return average (13.0) in the Pac-10. Kick returner LaShawn Ward, who sprung loose for a season-best 56-yarder at Michigan State in Week 3, owns a 27.1-yard average to date (first in the Pac-10, 15th in the NCAA), while Jemeel Powell-the school's all-time punt return leader (13.0 avg.)-averages 12.2 yards per punt return (5th in the Pac-10). Powell's 90-yard TD punt return in the first quarter at Michigan State Sept. 14 was the longest punt return by a Cal player in 43 years. Meanwhile, Cal's coverage units have been very respectable, limiting their foes to a 18.8-yard kickoff return average and 10.9 punt return figure. The Bears' kicking game has also been solid, with placekicker Mark Jensen already equaling his all-time high for FGs in a season with 11, including a 51-yard field goal at Michigan State, the fifth longest in Cal history.
Palmer, Kelly & McCullough-All Trojans for the Ages-Present Challenge for Cal's Defense
California, which has shaved two touchdowns off its average-game yield from a year ago (39.2 to 25.8 ppg), will collide this weekend with a USC offense that features one of the nation's best three-pronged attacks in quarterback Carson Palmer, wide receiver Kareem Kelly and tailback Sultan McCullough. All three players rank among the greatest at their positions in USC history. Palmer, who has completed 59.3% of his passes (118-of-199) for 1,344 yards and seven TDs in leading Southern California to an early 3-2 record, has already become his school's all-time leader in passing yards (9,220), completions (736) and total offense (9,083). He currently ranks sixth in passing yards (fifth: John Elway, 9,349) and fourth in total offense (third: Jonathon Smith, 9,549) on the Pac-10 career list. Kelly, perhaps destined to become USC's all-time reception king, needs 22 catches in Troy's final seven games to eclipse Johnnie Morton (201, 1990-93) and claim the title. Kelly, who has been limited to 22 grabs and one TD thus far this season, also needs 486 more receiving yards to leap-frog Morton (3,201) for USC's career receiving yards crown. Kelly ranks second in catches and third in yardage on USC's list. McCullough, the fastest (10.17) player ever to wear a Trojan football uniform, has rushed for a team-high 353 yards this year to climb into ninth place on USC's elite career rushing list with 2,339 yards. The 1999 Pac-10 100-meter champion has rushed for 100 yards 10 times in his career.
Thus far this season (prior to Monday's selections this week), Cal has landed the second most Pac-10 Players of the Week in the conference, trailing only USC, which has garnered four. QB Kyle Boller and PR Jemeel Powell were both cited for their play in Cal's upset win at Michigan State Sept. 14, and K Mark Jensen earned player of the week accolades after the Air Force game Sept. 21. USC and Washington have featured two Pac-10 Players of the Week this season ... Pete Carroll is one of three former NFL head coaches Cal will face this year. Carroll, who served as head coach for both the New York Jets and New England Patriots, is joined by Oregon State's Dennis Erickson (Seattle Seahawks) and Arizona's John Mackovic (Kansas City Chiefs) on the Bears' 2002 slate ... Saturday's game will feature two of the youngest wide receiver coaches in major college football. Cal's first-year WR coach is Eric Kiesau, a 29-year-old former Portland State quarterback who has previously coached two years at Utah State, as well as brief stints at Moorpark High and Glendale Community College in Southern California, and the University of Oregon. USC's Lane Kiffin is even younger, checking in at 27 years old. He is the son of the long-time NFL assistant coach Monte Kiffin, and has logged previous experience at Fresno State, Colorado State and the Jacksonville Jaguars ... The University of California began playing football six years before USC did, with its charter season being 1882 (compared with the Trojans christening their football history in 1888) ... USC, the home of four Heisman Trophy-winning running backs-Mike Garrett (now the school's athletic director), O.J. Simpson, Charles White and Marcus Allen-ironically ranks eighth in Pac-10 rushing at 105.2 ground yards per game ...Southern California has won 71 men's NCAA team championships, the most in the nation. Eight of those titles have been in football, although the last grid crown occurred 24 years ago in 1978 ... When Pete Carroll arrived at USC last year, he started a new tradition at Trojans' home games. The USC team buses unload the players in front of the Coliseum peristyle more than two hours before kickoff and USC players walk through the tailgaters into the stadium. Coincidentally, Cal coach Jeff Tedford began a similar tradition in Berkeley this year called the "March to Victory." Cal's team buses drop off the players near Maxwell Family Field (formerly Kleeberger Field) before the game and the team walks through the parking lot, which is lined by approximately 1,000 well-wishers ... Among the more famous USC alumni are actor John Wayne, directors George Lucas and Ron Howard, astronaut Neil Armstrong, former U.S. General Norman Schwarzkoff, former U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher and political satirist Art Buchwald.
USC Series is Cal's 2nd Longest Running Pac-10 Rivalry
In the history of Cal football, the Bears-Trojans series is the school's second-longest running rivalry among Pac-10 opponents. This Saturday marks the 90th renewal of the series, with USC holding a 55-29-5 edge. The only Cal series that feature more meetings is the Big Game with Stanford (104 games, Cardinal leading 54-39-11).