One week after losing to the Stanford Cardinal and taking a massive drop in the college football rankings, the USC Trojans bounced back with a victory against Cal but failed to regain the respect they lost the previous week.
The Trojans were thought to be a national championship contender when the season began, but that quickly ended after their loss to the Cardinal.
USC had a chance to regain some of the luster their program had just one month ago, but their showing against Cal did exactly the opposite for the Trojans.
Seeing as how the Golden Bears have lost to the likes of Nevada and allowed 31 points to Southern Utah two games ago, it would be expected that USC could put up some major points on the board.
Not to mention, the Golden Bears haven't beaten the Trojans since 2003, so confidence for Cal wasn't exactly riding high.
Instead, the Trojans could only muster up 27 points against their Pac-12 counterparts.
In fact, the Golden Bears were just eight points behind the Trojans going into the fourth quarter. Only then would USC tack on another 10 points to make the end result look a bit more comfortable. A 75-yard touchdown drive in the fourth kept Cal's offense off the field for much of the final frame.
Quarterback Matt Barkley didn't exactly come out firing in this one, either. His Heisman hopes continue to look increasingly bleak.
Barkley was 22-of-34 for 192 yards and two scores but managed to throw two picks as well. Not only did Barkley fail to to break the 200-yard mark, but he averaged just 5.6 yards per pass.
If not for a breakout performance from USC's rushing attack with 296 yards on the ground, Barkley's performance would not have been enough to win this game.
A statement win was an absolutely necessity for the Trojans to regain the respect of an elite team. But for the third week in a row, USC looked unimpressive, and as the season goes along, it's more and more evident they couldn't hang with Alabama or LSU, two of the best teams in the country.