Sports

Cal is now No. 3; LSU is new No. 1

EUGENE, Ore. -- It's beginning to look a lot like last season for Cal -- only better.

A key Pac-10 victory over undefeated Oregon last season sent the Golden Bears on their way to a 10-3 season and a share of the conference championship with USC.

Now Cal has another victory over Oregon. The Golden Bears beat the Ducks 31-24 on Saturday at Autzen Stadium in another important conference game for the pursuit of the Trojans and this season's title.

Facing an off week, Cal (5-0, 2-0 Pacific-10) jumped three spots in the AP poll to No. 3. USC, which played spotty in a 27-24 victory at Washington, dropped to No. 2 behind LSU.

"It's another challenge now. You've got to be more focused. You've got to be more humble. You've got to pay more attention to detail, execution," Cal linebacker Worrell Williams said. "This bye week is not an off week. It's a week where you can mentally get prepared for every game."

It's the highest ranking for Cal since 1952, when the Bears were No. 3 for consecutive weeks midway through the season.

Cal is host to USC on Nov. 10. Cal had its first real conference test of the season in the previously undefeated Ducks and withstood Oregon's tricky spread-option offense.

"No team can beat Cal except for Cal," Williams said.

California snapped a seven-game losing streak at Autzen Stadium that dated to 1987.

"This win proved to our team that we can do it," Cal receiver Lavelle Hawkins said.

Oregon, ranked 11th before the loss, fell to No. 14. Undefeated Arizona State jumped from 23rd to 18th following a 41-3 victory over Stanford.

Cal's defense picked up the slack for three quarters against Oregon before the offense took over -- and received help from a few Oregon errors.

The end was dramatic, with a reviewed call that harkened back to last season, when officials blew a call in Oregon's win over Oklahoma.

The officials got it right this time.

With 22 seconds to go and Cal on top by a touchdown, Oregon's Dennis Dixon hit receiver Cameron Colvin, who fumbled trying to reach the ball into the end zone when he was hit by Marcus Ezeff.

The loose ball went through the end zone and was ruled a touchback and possession for Cal. The play was reviewed.

"It passes through your mind real briefly, but then you remember this is on 'College GameDay,' it's ABC, it's national television, and with all the publicity around that Oklahoma incident last year, I knew whatever the right call was going to be made," Cal linebacker Anthony Felder said.

The call stood and time ran out for Oregon (4-1, 1-1).

USC is the first team to lose the No. 1 ranking after a victory since Nov. 3, 2002, when No. 1 Miami dropped after beating Rutgers 42-17 and No. 2 Oklahoma moved up following a 27-11 victory over No. 13 Colorado.

LSU is No. 1 in the AP poll for the first time since Nov. 2, 1959. The Tigers, who recovered from a first-half malaise to beat Tulane 34-9, received 33 first-place votes from the media panel and 1,593 points. USC received 32 first-place votes, 11 fewer than last week, and 1,591 points.

The voting was the closest since the second poll of the 2002 season, when Miami and Oklahoma tied for No. 1 with 27 first-place votes each.

No. 7 Boston College is in the top 10 for the first time since 1992 and No. 8 Kentucky for the first time since 1977.

USC held on to No. 1 in the USA Today and Harris polls with LSU, Cal, Ohio State and Wisconsin in the top five. The Harris and coaches' polls are used in the Bowl Championship Series standings to determine which teams play in the national title game. The first BCS standings will be released Oct. 14.

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