Five things we learned this weekend: Sept. 21-23

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(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
USC running back Silas Redd celebrates with fans after Saturday’s win over Cal, but he didn’t pile up 158 yards rushing and a TD easily, as he’s upended by Cal defensive back Steve Williams, left and right, during the second half.

Just a little help staying ahead of the sports world learning curve:

1. USC was certainly in a rush to get into a bye week. But the No. 13 Trojans still don’t seem to be in any hurry to run up a score, as evident by a sloggish 27-9 win over Cal. The bounce-back triumph showed some team resolve, but more interestingly, how the Silas Redd-Curtis McNeal combo can get their names higher up in a story than Matt Barkley and Marquise Lee if they put their minds to it, and if other team’s defenses think Barkley-to-Lee is all they’ve got. The emergence of defensive end Morgan Breslin is another bright spot as the Trojans remain off to the side on the national championship radar until they capture one of those so-called “signature wins” in the next few weeks. With Oregon up to the No. 2 spot, maybe it means there’s a spot at the adult table for a Pac-12 team. Who wants it?

2. UCLA’s inability to keep up with Oregon State and fall out of the Top 25 came a week earlier in the schedule than what we would have predicted. Usually, the Bruins will put on a good show early — and then classes start, as they will this week on Thursday. Now, everyone’s schedules change. Practices on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday go from 7 a.m. to about 8:45 a.m. It’s no longer a “just football” focus time. It gives us reason to believe that 1-3 Colorado has every right to believe it can do some damage when it plays host to the Bruins this Saturday, where the rest of us will be staying away from the 405 mess and hoping to find a friend with the Pac-12 Network access.

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3. Clayton Kershaw had every reason to blow a gasket on national TV after manager Don Mattingly pulled him from a 1-1 tie five innings into an important game in Cincinnati. One, it meant that Jose Uribe was going to be used as a pinch hitter, and that’s just another automatic out (hold on a sec, you say he singled?) Two, it’s a white flag waved in what little time is left in the chase for a possible wild-card spot. Kershaw was coming off a 12-day layoff to put a fire under a floundering team. The defending Cy Young Award winner with a sore hip went 92 pitches, walked five and hit a guy, but he struck out two of the last three he faced. It wasn’t as if he was pitching with a bloody sock or something, but that had to be a sock to the stomach for the rest of the team at a time when …. hold on, the Dodgers came back to win it? So, maybe they were inspired? So they’re still alive? Don’t toy with our emotions … Go 9-0 from here and get back to us.

4. Watching another replay of Game 6 from last June’s Stanley Cup Final, throwing “Slap Shot” into the Blu-ray player, or dragging out the Super Nintendo to make Gretzky’s head bleed isn’t going to make this NHL lockout any easier to stomach.

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5. If the NFL figured out a way to have every other game on the schedule go into overtime, it might even be the most popular reality TV show this side of Honey Boo Boo Child. Heck, it could even win a prime-time Emmy if streakers could be a regular occurrence (female preferred) or Matt Schaub could promise losing a piece of his ear every time out. Just change the storyline on the New Orleans Saints … oops, too late. Losergate.

Our favorite photo of the weekend:

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From the Coliseum press box, we snapped these following the USC-Cal game at about 7:15 p.m. as the first autumn sunset of 2012 took place:

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