Perhaps the Washington Huskies did it because people kept saying their first four victories were not that impressive.

Perhaps they did it as compensation: as the winds blew in from nearby Lake Washington today, they just decided to blow out California.

Most likely, though, the Huskies did it because they are the country's No. 1-ranked team, after all. Washington scored 27 third-quarter points and defeated California's not-so-Golden Bears, 50-7, in a Pacific-10 Conference game today before an estimated 56,500 at Husky Stadium.

"There was an awareness and a concern about how we were playing before today. We just were not pleased with ourselves," said Washington Coach Don James, his team now a captivating 5-0, 3-0 in the conference.

"This is more like the Huskies can play."

Heaven help the rest of the Pacific-10 if these are the real Huskies. Washington led, 16-0, at halftime, then used a 27-0 third quarter to take a 43-0 lead. Then, a 21-yard touchdown run by third-string running back Francois Cunningham with 2:27 left in the game made it 50-0.

Finally, with 54 seconds left in a game that bounced the Bears halfway back to Berkeley, second-string quarterback J. Torchio threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Andy Bark and it was 50-7.

All of which left first-year California Coach Joe Kapp, the former quarterback, shaking his head with the same scared quiver that once kept his passes in flight. "It's hard to have a sense of humor after a game like that," Kapp said. "We caught them when they were ready."

Prior to today's game, Washington's 1982 victory roundup read thusly: Texas-El Paso (55-0), Arizona (23-13), Oregon (37-21) and San Diego State (46-25). They were all victories, but as reserve quarterback Tim Cowan, who completed 13 of 17 passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns, said, "We had the potential. We just weren't using it."

So in came California today, a team with a 3-1 record, a durable defense that had allowed an average of just 9.7 points per game and a coach that, one month into the season, almost had his players believing they would steal the roses that had grown in Washington the past two years.

"It helps knowing that there is an opponent you can respect," said James. "It was not like the last two weeks."

It certainly was not like the last two weeks. Oregon and San Diego State got off easy. Poor California.

Senior Chuck Nelson kicked three field goals that gave Washington a 9-0 lead early in the second quarter and extended his NCAA-record to 22 consecutive field goals made, 17 of them this season. The previous record for one season was 16, set by Arkansas' Ish Ordonez in 1978-79 and tied by Maryland's Dale Castro in 1979.

But James did not like the fact the points came in field-goal form. "Too many threes," he said, wanting touchdowns instead.

When junior quarterback Steve Pelluer suffered a mild concussion late in the first half, senior reserve Cowan entered.

And California's hopes exited.

Cowan led the Huskies to their first touchdown -- Chris James' one-yard run with 17 seconds left in the half -- on his first drive.

Then in the third quarter, the fury was unleashed entirely. Washington scored touchdowns on four of five possessions.

The first of these was a 41-yard pass from Cowan to Aaron Williams (22-0). After Dennis Brown ran two yards for a touchdown (29-0), Cowan threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Williams (36-0), then a 15-yard scoring pass to Anthony Allen (43-0).

"Our defense can play with anybody, but not if they're on the field all day," Kapp said.

The California offense -- which once was graced by such quarterbacks as Craig Morton, Steve Bartkowski and the late Joe Roth -- has thrived on passing almost since 1959 when a quarterback named Joe Kapp led the team to its last Rose Bowl.

Today, the Golden Bears' offense had 194 total yards, 127 passing. Starting quarterback Gale Gilbert completed six of 13 for 41 yards and was intercepted twice.

"We got blasted . . . We were destroyed and that is an understatement," he said.

Strong safety Chris O'Connor intercepted one of Gilbert's passes and said there was a reason for the Gilbert/Torchio quarterback distress today. "We kept changing coverages on them," he said. "That screwed up their quarterbacks' heads."

The Huskies had 445 total yards and 60 minutes of total domination today. When it was over, Don James smiled like a coach on top of his game and on top of the polls and called the victors of this Saturday stampede, "The real Huskies."