About Cal, USC meet for berth in the Rose Bowl
|November 18th, 2006||#1|
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Cal, USC meet for berth in the Rose Bowl info
LOS ANGELES - The last time the Golden Bears celebrated New Year's in Pasadena, their current coach hadn't been born yet. California can end that 48-year drought Saturday against the Trojans at the Los Angeles Coliseum. A Pac-10 championship and an automatic berth in the Rose Bowl are on the line.
"There doesn't have to be any extra motivation in this week's game. Our players know what's at stake,'" Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "It's just about going out and executing the game plan against a great football team."
The 17th-ranked Bears face a difficult task. No. 4 USC has 31 straight wins at the Coliseum, including 22 against conference opponents, and the Trojans are 18-0 in November under coach Pete Carroll.
"We're ready for this," Carroll said. "I think the impact of the Pac-10 championship being this week is perfect timing. It's beautiful and we're looking forward to it."
Southern California has played in 18 Rose Bowl games since California's last appearance.
The Trojans are favored by six points, but the Bears seem confident.
"I don't feel like the underdog. I feel like they're the underdog for some reason," Cal linebacker Desmond Bishop said. "I just have a good feeling about it."
USC (8-1, 6-1 Pac-10) is coming off one-sided victories over Stanford and Oregon after losing at Oregon State. Cal (8-2, 6-1) was upset at Arizona last weekend, ending an eight-game winning streak.
"Our guys have put last week behind them," Tedford said. "We haven't had this opportunity very often, so I'm proud of our players for putting themselves in this position. USC is playing excellent right now. We've been real fortunate to have had some real good games against them."
The Bears lost 30-28 four years ago in Tedford's first season, but won 34-31 in triple overtime the following year. USC won the last two meetings, including a 35-10 blowout last year.
"It's an exciting preparation for us because they know us and we know them," Carroll said. "They're really good and really capable and Jeff does a really good job."
Should the Trojans prevail, they'll become the first team to win five straight Pac-10 football crowns and take another step toward a possible berth in the national championship game. USC finishes the season with games against No. 6 Notre Dame and crosstown rival UCLA.
Cal last played in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 1959 - almost two years before Tedford was born. The Bears lost to Iowa 38-12.
"That's a long time," Cal linebacker Mickey Pimentel said. "We can make history. We've only got one chance to get the roses and experience a classical bowl for the first time. We've been looking forward to this one all year, even though we're not supposed to."
The Bears lead the Pac-10 in scoring, and the Trojans are No. 1 defensively.
"That should make for a great matchup," Cal quarterback Nate Longshore said. "This is why I came to Cal, to play games like this. We tried to stay focused on every game, but I'm sure SC has been in the back of our minds for quite some time."
Longshore and USC's John David Booty rank 1-2 in the Pac-10 in passing efficiency. Longshore has completed 62.3 percent of his passes for 2,393 yards and 21 touchdowns with 10 interceptions, while Booty has hit on 62.7 percent of his throws for 2,142 yards and 20 TDs with six INTs.
Both teams have talented receiving tandems - DeSean Jackson and Lavelle Hawkins for Cal, and Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith for USC.
Jackson, a sophomore from Long Beach who chose Cal over USC two years ago, gives the Bears one of the country's most dangerous weapons. He leads the nation with four punt returns for TDs and has caught a conference-leading nine TD passes.
"Very rarely do we get a guy USC has really gone after," Tedford said. "It's nice to have him here."
Cal's Marshawn Lynch leads the Pac-10 in rushing with 1,090 yards on 168 carries. USC counters with Chauncey Washington, who scored three touchdowns against Oregon last weekend. Freshman Emmanuel Moody, the Trojans' second-leading rusher, won't play because of an injured ankle.
"It's just going to be another shootout," Trojans tackle Kyle Williams said. "They're a good team. We're expecting nothing but the best from them."