Cal's defensive alignment different

LOS ANGELES -- The Trojans' offensive line and running backs will be running head first into the strength of the Cal defense Thursday night in San Francisco.

The USC running game faces one of the bigger and better defensive fronts it has faced this season. Cal's three down linemen are anchored by nose guards Kendrick Payne and Aaron Tipoti, both 6-foot-2 and 300 pounds. Outside of them at defensive end are Trevor Guyton and Ernest Owusu, who are a bit taller and also close to 300 pounds. They are built like the offensive linemen for whom they have been causing problems all season, and they are the main reason Cal took a halftime lead against Oregon last week.

The Cal defense will be different from what the USC offense has prepared for this season. Most teams have used four down linemen and three linebackers in a traditional 4-3 defense. The Bears mostly will employ three down linemen with either a standup defensive end or linebacker on the outside, and three linebackers behind in a 3-4 front.