BERKELEY — Moments after thousands of blue-clad fans from a crowd of 51,208 swarmed onto the field at Memorial Stadium to celebrate California's 34-31 triple-overtime upset of USC, the players responsible for that victory retreated to the locker room, where they had only one question to ask.
That was the third-ranked team in the nation?
"I don't think they played like it, like the No. 3 team in the country," Cal cornerback Daymeion Hughes said. "I really thought they would show us more. They didn't impress me. They've only got one threat, Mike Williams. They don't have multi-threats like Kansas State did. Kansas State was better."
Of course, the Bears earned the right to say just what they wished because that's the prerogative of the winner, even if they are 3-3 for the season.
California lost at Kansas State, 42-28, in its opener, and Hughes was not alone in suggesting that the Wildcats were a lot tougher than the Trojans.
"USC, they're just one-dimensional," defensive tackle Lorenzo Alexander said. "They had, what, no rushing game. Mike Williams is their entire offense and they surprised me because I thought they would use him more. I don't know why they didn't, but I'm glad they did it that way."
That's also what running back Adimchinobe Echemandu said.
"We have a very efficient offense. Just by looking at it, we have all kinds of firepower," he said. "But I didn't really see any firepower on their side. Mike Williams is their whole offense. I saw their offense and I went, 'Wow, is this it?' "
It may have seemed that way, that Williams, the hugely talented sophomore wide receiver, carried much of the offensive load for the Trojans, with six catches for 96 yards. Flanker Keary Colbert had eight catches for 81 yards and one touchdown.
Anyway, many of the Cal players had enough comments about USC to last long into the night.
"If that was the No. 3 team, then we're better than the No. 3 team because we beat them," Hughes said. "We're a blue-collar team that just wants to get the job done."
Wide receiver Jonathan Makonnen contrasted the persona of the two teams.
"The USC players, they have been getting a lot of attention," he said. "A lot of their guys are so-called stars. Every time I turn on the TV, there's Mike Williams. You don't see Geoff McArthur. We're not used to that exposure. But we don't care about exposure like some other teams do. We just want to win."
Quarterback Reggie Robertson said nothing the Trojans came up with surprised the Bears.
"We had seen their plays before," he said. "We had seen their looks all week, so we were prepared for what they had."
And what was that?
"Mike Williams," he said.
Coach Jeff Tedford said what he knows about beating a third-ranked USC team is not very complicated.
"It's just one game for us," he said. "I give a lot of credit to USC, they're well-coached and they have great athletes."
He didn't mention anything about anybody's collars.