BERKELEY — Two days before California plays its second game in less than a week against a well-rested USC team, coach Sonny Dykes was still trying to figure out why the Golden Bears were put in this position.
The quick turnaround and short week following Friday's double-overtime win against Oregon forced Cal to condense its normal schedule, something that wouldn't bother Dykes so much if there weren't so many other factors involved.
The Bears already had to trim a day off their regular routine because Thursday night's game is on the road. On top of that, several Cal players are in the middle of midterm exams, reducing their availability for practice even more.
It's a topic that Dykes has been simmering over for a few weeks now and one he wasn't ready to back off of Tuesday.
"When you sit down and look at the schedule, clearly it's not ideal," Dykes said "It's one of those deals where you just go, 'How in the world did this ever happen? How could somebody let this happen?'"
Cal (4-3, 2-2 Pac-12) was coming off a 12-day break when it beat Oregon in Berkeley on Friday night in a game that lasted nearly 4 ½ hours and didn't end until almost midnight local time. The Bears ran 118 plays offensively against the Ducks, which Dykes said was the equivalent of playing two games.
On the other hand, USC (4-3, 3-2) hasn't played since thumping Arizona 48-14 on Oct. 15.
While some team would have had to play the Trojans coming off a bye, Dykes can't understand why the Bears were selected to do it on short rest — and on the road.
"We've had to make a lot of schedule changes and do a lot of different things out of the norm," Dykes said. "It's one thing to do it on six days' notice. It's another to do it on the road. But our guys have handled it well."
The Bears shortened their work week to try to get everything in.
Players were given Saturday off but were back on the field Sunday afternoon. Cal practiced on its normal day off, Monday, but several players were unable to attend due to academic responsibilities.
"The challenge you always face is making sure that you balance keeping them fresh with getting enough reps and developing your young players," Dykes said. "Just teaching them all the things you need to teach them about your opponent in a limited amount of time. We've got to balance getting some work done but at the same time making sure we're fresh."
Cal's players don't seem bothered by the quick turnaround.
Defensive back Cameron Walker and left tackle Aaron Cochran said the short week means more emphasis on studying USC and doing extra film work.
Quarterback Davis Webb, on the other hand, doesn't think it will be much of an issue at all.
"It's a challenge but I think it's a mindset at the same time," Webb said. "We understand that's how the schedule rolled for us this year and there are no excuses. We have to play a tough team on Thursday night and we look forward to the challenge. If you don't know the game plan and what they're going to do by Thursday then you're in trouble."