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FACTOR FIVE FIVE FACTOR PREVIEW: CAL AT USC

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I'M SURE STEVE SARKISIAN WON'T TOTALLY EMBARRASS HIMSELF ON NATIONAL TV

Brian Bahr

The Factor Five Five Factor Preview is EDSBS's best, and only, Thursday preview. It measures each team based on five precise categories which were decided long ago when Phylicia Rashad came to Spencer in a dream and told him to use these. Unrelatedly, Spencer had been painting all day with the windows closed.

NEBULOUS STATISTICAL COMPARISONS OF DUBIOUS VALIDITY

Would you like to cite a statistic about Cal's defense? How about this: that despite giving up scads of yards and points every game and playing every single snap completely ablaze with disastrous football fire, Cal is somehow...49th in defensive FEI? And yet also 91st in S&P? This probably results from Cal's special ability to give up first downs (most in the nation allowed,) long plays (124th in the nation, tied with Oregon,) and yet still do pretty well on a drive-by-drive basis when it comes to overall impact on the game. Cal's defense is the mediocre husband you can't justify divorcing because he doesn't make the big mistake by blowing your savings on a boat for the lake, but still likes to buy ten dollars of scratch-off and a carton of Marlboro Reds every day of his life on the way home from work.

USC is superior in pretty much every major statistical category, but never tell Steve Sarkisian the odds when a sure home victory on national television is on the line.

ADVANTAGE: CAL

CAL, YOU'VE BEEN FACTOR'D

MASCOT

It's important to note that USC's mascot is Traveler the horse, not the person who rides him onto the field. (The school used to have a dog mascot named George Tirebiter but abandoned that after 1957, because they are stupid.) Here is a real line about Traveler on USC's web site:

Legend has it that Heisman Trophy tailback O.J. Simpson decided to come to USC after seeing Traveler on a televised football game.

MURDERHORSE.

Cal's bear mascot, Oski, can put a straw into his eye and drink from it. It's extremely terrifying and has undoubtedly led to several hospital trips from drunken students who want to know if they possess this ability. His face looks like the bottom of a big toe that has stepped on a raisin. Killing capability: unknown.

You think we're gonna piss off a murderhorse?

ADVANTAGE: USC

USC, YOU'VE BEEN FACTOR'D

AURA

The Coliseum is a huge, old chunk of battered fascist concrete located in a knotty part of L.A.'s commuter intestine. We say fascist with a note of affection, because the whole USC mythos depends on finding a scary dude with a sword and a repetitive military chant sort of adorable. Which, for the record, we do, particularly when USC is 3-1 at home this year (albeit against the Cals and Wazzus of the Pac-12.) It's not the Coliseum of the Pete Carroll era, but Sark's still got plenty of time to grow into the dictator that stadium needs strutting its sidelines.

/plays "Gangsta Lean" as loud as we can for Pete Carroll

The Coliseum's Yelp page generated the most California complaint ever:

LAColiseumAintGotFrostyMonster

USC ain't got that frosty Monster beverage we've become so accustomed to at all of our spectator events, but it's still an intimidating enough place to play without it. Bitches.

ADVANTAGE: USC

USC, YOU'VE BEEN FACTOR'D

NAMES

USC
Max Tuerk
Olajuwon Tucker
Damien Mama
Su'a Cravens
Robby Kolanz

Cal
A.J. Greathouse
Harrison Wilfley
Lucus Gingold
Addison Ooms
Quentin Tartabull

Talk to a USC fan about football for more than three minutes and the subject of sanctions will inevitably be raised. Beyond the simple scholarship numbers and bowl games, it's impossible to quantify the loss those sanctions really caused. Conference championships and national title appearances can't just be assumed, but we can say this: those sanctions forced USC to make some tough decisions about the roster. Decisions that maybe kept them from having a Greathouse or Ooms or Wilfley.

It's tempting to play "what if?" But it also doesn't lead us anywhere. You lose this round, USC. You lost it the minute Harrison Wilfley signed his letter of intent.

ADVANTAGE: CAL

CAL, YOU'VE BEEN FACTOR'D

GRUDGES/SCORES TO SETTLE/SHEER CUSSEDNESS

Ten losses in a row to USC means the ledger sides with Cal here, including a 62-28 loss last year in Sonny Dykes' first year in Berkeley. (The ledger, to be fair, usually sides with Cal when it comes to football misery.) It's not even like Sarkisian's got any beef with Cal, since he never lost a game to them when he was at Washington, either. Unless the Trojans work up some weird Nobel Prize envy-- DAMN YOU RANDY SCHEKMAN, WINNER OF THE 2013 NOBEL FOR YOUR PIONEERING WORK IN PHYSIOLOGY-- this is Cal's harvest of well-earned ire to win.

ADVANTAGE: CAL

BY A SCORE OF 3-2...Cal is your Factor Five Five Factor Preview undisputed predicted winner. Print this column and take it to your local Olive Garden, where it is redeemable for one extra breadstick per basket. Insist on speaking to the manager if they try to claim otherwise.