The sight of Jared Goff yelling on the sideline, having to be restrained by a teammate, was all anyone needed to know about California’s frustration Saturday.
Goff is not going to be in Heisman Trophy consideration. And the Golden Bears are slip-sliding again in the Pac-12, as they did a year ago, losing their third straight game with a 27-21 setback to Southern California in Berkeley.
“I think we’re all frustrated,” coach Sonny Dykes said. “We should be playing better than we’re playing on offense, no question about it. We’ve got to get it figured out and play better.”
A game that was billed as a showdown between two of the Pac-12’s top quarterbacks in Cody Kessler and Goff was decided by USC’s defense and running game instead.
Adoree Jackson returned an interception 46 yards for a touchdown and Ronald Jones ran for 80 yards and a score to lead USC to its 12th straight win over Cal.
“We have a formula right now to run the ball, stop the run and don’t turn the ball over,” interim coach Clay Helton said. “It was a tremendous team effort.”
Tre Madden also had a touchdown run a key third-down conversion that helped run out the clock for the Trojans (5-3, 3-2 Pac-12).
Kessler completed 18 of 22 passes but only threw for 186 yards while missing star receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster for much of the game with a broken bone in his hand.
“This game was won by our offensive line,” Kessler said.
Goff threw the interception that put the Golden Bears (5-3, 2-3) in a 17-point hole in the third quarter. He threw for 272 yards and two TDs, but was intercepted twice as the Bears are still searching for that elusive sixth win that will make them eligible for a bowl for the first time since 2011.
While Cal’s hopes to contend in the Pac-12 are dwindling, USC’s are rising with the two big wins under Helton. The Trojans beat then-No. 3 Utah 42-24 at home last week followed by another win against Cal. USC had lost three of its previous four games and fired coach Steve Sarkisian during that stretch after beginning the season with hopes to contend for a championship.
The Trojans took control of this game with two big plays in a span of 23 seconds in the third quarter. First, Madden capped a 67-yard drive to open the second half by scoring on a 2-yard run on fourth-and-1.
“It’s bad, it hurts,” Lasco said. “I wanted this game and I know a lot of seniors wanted this game. This is a huge game for the community. It hurts to say the least. It really does hurt. Being here for five years and I can’t find a way to ever beat SC. It’s not a good feeling.”