Cal (5-4, 2-4 Pac-12) at USC (5-4, 4-3)

San Francisco Chronicle - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL - — Rusty Sim­mons

When: 7:30 p.m. Sat­ur­day Where: Los An­ge­les TV/Ra­dio: ESPN/810

Story lines: This game has drawn a lot of histri­onic chat­ter in the lead-up, but there is great present-day sig­nif­i­cance for each team. Cal is one vic­tory from earn­ing bowl el­i­gi­bil­ity for just the sec­ond time in seven sea­sons. USC is in a three-way tie with Utah and Ari­zona for first place in the Pac-12 South.

In­juries: Cal — WR Kanawai Noa (undis­closed) is ques­tion­able. WR Jor­dan Dun­can (hand) is doubt­ful. RB Johnny Adams Jr. (leg), OL Henry Baza­kas (lower body), DL Rusty Becker (lower body), QB Ross Bow­ers (thumb), LB Der­ron Brown (per­sonal), LB Ger­ran Brown (med­i­cal re­tire­ment), RB Derrick Clark (lower body), LB Cameron Goode (leg), OL Michael Saf­fell (leg) and WR Bran­don Sin­gle­ton (undis­closed) are out. USC — DB Olai­jah Grif­fin (shoul­der) is prob­a­ble. DB Greg John­son (shoul­der), LB Levi Jones (hip) and DB Iman Mar­shall (an­kle) are ques­tion­able. WR Michael Pittman Jr. (shoul­der) is doubt­ful. TE Austin Ap­ple­bee (neck), RB Stephen Carr (an­kle) is out, LB Porter Gustin (an­kle), DB Talanoa Hu­fanga (col­lar­bone), TE Daniel Ima­torb­hebhe (hip), K Chase McGrath (ACL) and DB Isa­iah Pola-Mao (shoul­der) are out.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

⏩ Cal has lost 14 straight against USC, last win­ning in 2003 (34-31 in triple over­time). The Bears last won at the Coli­seum in 2000 (28-16). USC had a 19-game home win­ning streak snapped by Ari­zona State on Oct. 27.

⏩ USC head coach Clay Hel­ton said this game will be won by the big boys. He re-as­sumed play-call­ing re­spon­si­bil­i­ties last Sat­ur­day at Ore­gon State, and the Tro­jans pounded out more than 300 rush­ing yards on 7.8 yards per carry. Cal’s past three op­po­nents have av­er­aged 88.3 rush­ing yards per game on 3.0 yards per carry.

⏩ With all of the at­ten­tion on the run­ning game, one of the young quar­ter­backs could make a game-de­cid­ing play. USC’s JT Daniels is a true fresh­man who grad­u­ated high school a year early to try to re­place No. 3 over­all pick Sam Darnold. Cal’s Chase Gar­bers is a red­shirt fresh­man who has shown steady im­prove­ment in each of his six starts.

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