Luster or Not, Saturday Will Be a Fight

You took vacation days, scheduled cross-country trips and shelled out the cash for the Bay Area's finest accommodations…

And it was all going to be completely worth it.

For months, October 3 has been circled on calendars across the nation, not because of Miami's surprisingly anticipated bout with Oklahoma, but because of the potential changing of the guard out West.

As of September 26, though, many couldn't log on fast enough to see if their cheap tickets on Expedia.com were refundable.

From what I understand, they're not…

You'll thank them later.

This weekend's clash between No. 24 Cal and No. 7 USC has no doubt lost much of its luster over the last couple of weeks, what with the Trojans' sleepless night in Seattle and the Bears' disappearing act at Autzen.

A contest that was once billed as a potential "Game of the Year" on a national scale—a match that would likely determine the Pac-10's representative in the Rose Bowl or better—is now no more appealing than an unranked ACC contest (I'm still bitter by the way).

From solidification to Jahvid Best's plummeting Heisman stock, from title hopes to just hoping for eligibility, Saturday's script has certainly undergone much revision.

But while the national media has scattered from the scene more quickly than Bears' fans did from section 18 last weekend, October 3 has become more meaningful than ever.

Five weeks into the season and it's already "loser goes home."

Just seven times in history has a team won the Pac-10 with two conference losses. That fait awaits one team on Saturday.

But perhaps more importantly, Cal is fighting for respect.

A week ago, the Bears were on the cusp of national relevance. Ranked in the top 10 with 2007 behind them and a roster revered by many as one of the most talented in the country, Cal was finally getting the national attention it had sought since ‘04.

Sixty minutes later, and most had lost interest. That's what the woodshed will do for you.

Will a win at home against a suspect USC squad erase the 39-point shellacking in Eugene?

No, but it could prove what the Bears and Coach Jeff Tedford have adamantly preached for the last six days: that last weekend was just a fluke.

Will Jeremiah Masoli's dissection of the Cal defense cease to exist?

No, but the Bears could show their ability to bounce back when seemingly everything—Gameday included—is against them.

How nice would the earlier scenario have been?

Two top-10 teams going at it, the winner on the inside track to the Sears Trophy, the loser still with a phenomenal shot at a BCS bowl.

Now, for Cal, it's all about survival.

Win and stay on the Ducks' glittery heals, hoping Oregon falters down the road.

But lose and the Bears sit in an all too familiar seat, heading to a place Tedford has never won, staring a 3-3 start and a nasty reputation square in the eye.

So is this game as shiny as it once was?

No.

But don't go scalping your ticket just yet; Saturday is going to be a fight.

Cal Sports Digest is the new home of lead writer Jon Doss' award winning Daily Cal column "Who's the Doss". Jon will weigh in on hot topics pertaining to Cal and the Pac-10 conference throughout the season.

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