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Golden Nuggets: Cal at USC, the Pac-12's Marquee Matchup During Week Four

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Ted Miller has been taking us through the ultimate Pac-12 road trip, week by week. The week four selection features a showdown between two ranked teams (yes, he jinxed us again), Cal and USC.

Why: Braxton Miller's poorly-timed bootleg was the difference last week. He rolled right into a salivating Deandre Coleman who jarred the ball loose and Marc Anthony scooped it up and went 54 yards the other way to lock up the 31-24 win for the Bears. A frustrated Urban Meyer, whose team is now 0-3 but somehow still ranked No. 6, says to heck with the $4 million and calls Kyle Whittingham to inquire about any openings on his staff.
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That brings us to the Biletnikoff Bowl. Three of the conference's top wide receivers will be on display in a game USC won 30-9 last year. Cal's Keenan Allen and USC's Marqise Lee and Robert Woods are the marquee playmakers -- and of course -- Barkley, whose Heisman campaign is off to a glowing start.

But he faces another elite defense this week that had Barkley's and USC's number last season. The Bears, which held Barkley to a season-low 195 yards, also held the Trojans to their lowest total yardage of the season (313) and limited them to 118 yards on the ground (third lowest last year).

But as is the case with most games, turnovers were the difference. And Cal had five of them last season. Three Zach Maynard interceptions, a fumble by Maynard and a fumble by Allen produced 13 points for the Trojans.

While this is a cross-division game, it still has plenty of implications. For starters, it's one of the league's top offenses going against what's expected to be one of the league's top defenses. That in itself makes this a quality draw. The Bears, after their win at The Horseshoe, should be overflowing with confidence. But USC owns the series of late, winning eight in a row by an average score of 29-10. Cal's last win over the Trojans came in 2003 -- when Tyler Fredrickson's 38-yard field goal locked up the triple-overtime win over the No. 1 Trojans.

Are your jimmies rustled yet? Mine are rustled for all eternity as long as we have to keep reading these optimistic stories about the Bears. More links (and less rustlin') after the jump.

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  • Daniela Holmqvist continues to update us on the women's team's trip to Ireland (with some great photos, too): day four and day five (how about that sandtrap in photo two?).
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