Pete Carroll will begin searching today for clues, reasons for why California seemingly imploded a week before a showdown with the Trojans. Cal's 42-3 meltdown at Oregon dropped the Golden Bears from sixth to 24th in the Associated Press media poll.
"It was so far out of character and out of line with that they'd done up until this point," Carroll said Sunday. Cal's fall makes Saturday's matchup between the Trojans and Golden Bears a game between top-25 rather than top-10 teams. After a 27-6 victory over Washington State, USC moved to seventh in both the AP and the USA Today/ESPN coaches' polls. The Trojans (3-1 overall, 1-1 in the Pacific 10 Conference) also are seventh in the first Harris Interactive poll, which is part of the formula for the Bowl Championship Series standings.
Meanwhile, Cal (3-1, 0-1 in the Pac-10) is looking to bounce back like the Trojans did Saturday after losing at Washington a week earlier. "They looked great on film, throwing it well, running it well, playing good defense," Carroll said of the pre-Oregon Golden Bears. "And all of a sudden: 42-3. It's kind of hard to figure that one out to tell you the truth. I'm sure they're thinking the same thing." The Trojans have their own issues to address before traveling to Berkeley. First and foremost: Cutting down on penalties. They racked up 13 for 115 yards against Washington State -- seven for 75 yards in the first quarter.