BERKELEY -- A disappointing loss at Ohio State has not diminished the outlook of the Cal football team and could provide fuel for Saturday's game vs. No. 13 USC at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
"It definitely lifted our confidence," senior nose guard Kendrick Payne said of the 35-28 defeat at Ohio State, "but it also made us so much hungrier because you fought so hard and didn't come out with the win. So now it's like you've got to get it."
The Bears (1-2) have not beaten the Trojans (2-1) since a triple-overtime win in 2003, losing eight in a row. USC has dominated recently, taking the past four by a combined score of 125-29.
Cal's most recent victory over USC in Los Angeles was 12 years ago.
The Trojans also are coming off a defeat, falling from the No. 2 spot in The Associated Press Top 25 after a 21-14 loss at Stanford.
Coach Jeff Tedford has no illusions that USC's loss to Stanford makes this week any easier for the Bears.
"It'll be the same USC team we always face -- always motivated, always very competitive," he said. "There's no doubt in my mind we're going to get their best effort."
Few players have more motivation than junior defensive end Keni Kaufusi, who will be matched against younger brother John Martinez, a starting guard for the Trojans.
"It just brings back to memories when we were in Little League, banging against each other," Kaufusi said. "You know how it goes ... usually I win.
Sophomore inside linebacker Nick Forbes, who got his first career start against Ohio State, said the positives from that game are defined by more than the team's level of play.
"It's how we played together ... everybody wanted it," Forbes said. "That's what you take away from the game as a player. After (linebacker Brennan) Scarlett made a big play, being there to feel his energy is a really powerful thing. Why you play team sports is that camaraderie."
Kaufusi is convinced the Bears can transform that spirit into something tangible after eight straight losses to USC.
"Everybody on the team, we're tired of that," he said. "I'd rather not speak, I'd rather show it by actions."
Asked during the Pac-12 media teleconference call if Bigelow had shown signs in practice of his breakout performance, Tedford said, "He practices like that all the time ... you see him do those type of things. He's a special player.
"He definitely has put himself in position to get a few more touches."
Without their best offensive lineman, the Bears' performance up front has been a mixed bag. The line helped Cal rush for 224 yards at Ohio State, but it allowed six sacks.
Distance was not the issue at Columbus. D'Amato missed all three wide left, including a 42-yarder with 4:20 left and the scored tied at 28.
Cal has dropped eight straight games to USC since winning 34-31 in triple overtime in 2003.
2004: USC 23-17
2005: USC 35-10
2006: USC 23-9
2007: USC 24-17
2008: USC 17-3
2009: USC 30-9
2010: USC 48-14
2011: USC 30-9
Note: USC's 2005 victory later was vacated.
Cal (1-2) at USC (2-1), 3 p.m., Pac-12 Networks