The Cal Bears have had their defensive problems against the run this season … and against the pass. On Saturday, though, it was special teams that broke down in a big way.
Southern California returned an NCAA-record tying three punts for touchdowns and hammered the Golden Bears at Memorial Stadium 62-28.
Cal’s losing streaks extended to 14 games against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents and 13 straight in Pac-12 play. They are 1-9 overall this year and remain winless in conference play at 0-7.
Jared Goff had a solid day for the Bears, completing 34-of-48 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns without an interception, but the defense got shredded for 499 total yards—243 on the ground and 256 in the air—besides the special teams gaffes.
Javorius Allen scored three touchdowns, two on the ground and one on a pass reception, for USC. Allen finished the day with a ridiculous 135 yards on just six carries and the one pass reception covered 57 yards.
Southern Cal led 21-0 after one quarter. Nelson Agholor opened the scoring with a 75-yard punt return score just 1:55 into the game. The Trojans made it 14-0 on a 12-yard pass from Cody Kessler to Silas Redd and Allen’s 43-yard touchdown run made it 21-0 with 1:37 left in the quarter.
Cal rallied, if briefly, in the second quarter, scoring on back-to-back possessions. Goff connected with Kenny Lawler on a four-yard score and later hit Darius Powe for a 24-yard touchdown to get it to 21-14.
That was as close as it would get.
Allen caught his long pass from Kessler, Josh Shaw returned a blocked punt 14 yards for a score and Agholor ran his second punt back, this one from 93 yards to make it 41-14 at the half.
Allen made it 48-14 with a 79-yard touchdown run and Ty Isaac scored a four-yard touchdown on the ground to make it 55-14 midway through the third quarter.
Kkalfani Muhammad scored on a seven-yard run for the Bears to close the gap to 55-21 after three periods. In the fourth quarter, Isaac had a 37-yard touchdown run for USC and Lawler caught his second four-yard touchdown pass from Goff to close the scoring.
Neither team turned the ball over, but the special teams ineptitude exhibited by Cal swung the game in the Trojans’ favor.
The Golden Bears continue their season next Saturday when they travel to Colorado for a 2:30 p.m. Pacific kickoff in Boulder. Colorado was 3-5 overall and 0-5 in Pac-12 play heading into their game at Washington this evening.