What: California (4-4 overall, 2-4) at Oregon State (4-3, 1-3)
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Reser Stadium
On the Air: Pac-12 Network/Beaver Sports Network
Series: 34-32, California. OSU has won six of the last seven meetings between the two teams, including three in a row in Corvallis.
Last season: The Beavers cruised to a 28-3 halftime lead and never looked back in a 49-17 victory. Sean Mannion threw for 481 yards and four touchdowns, all to different receivers, including Brandin Cooks who chipped in 232 yards (second highest total in OSU history) on 13 catches.
Cal’s last game: Cal is coming off a 59-41 loss to Oregon last Thursday. Sophomore quarterback Jared Goff completed 32 passes for 360 yards and two TDs. But the story of the game was that the Golden Bears’ running game was surprisingly effective — 193 yards, four TDs, and a 5.1 yards-per-carry average.
Notes: Beavers’ backup tight end Jacob Wark played three seasons for Cal. He transfered to OSU to complete his master’s degree. OSU head coach Mike Riley’s coaching career started in Berkeley. He served as graduate assistant for Cal during the 1975 season. He coached the defensive scout team. Oregon State ended its streak of 28 losing seasons against Cal in 1999. In 2002 against Cal, Steven Jackson rushed for OSU Reser Stadium record 229 yards.
5 Keys to Victory
1. Establish the run early. Cal’s defense is the worst in the Pac-12, allowing 41 points and 533 yards per game so far. So the Beavers need to, and should be able to, run the ball effectively. Using the run to set up the pass is key because if the Beavers do that, they should be able to have a field day through the air. The Golden Bears allow a conference-worst 383 passing yards per game.
2. Jump to an early (and big) lead. There has been a lot of pressure on Sean Mannion during the past few games. He has also taken a physical beating. The Beavers need to continue their recent trend of fast starts against Cal, so that Mannion can play loose and not worry about having to do too much. If he has a little more time to throw, he should put up good numbers and break the Pac-12 record for career passing yards.
3. Pressure Goff. Jared Goff is one of the top passers in the nation, ranking in the top 10 in seven passing categories. He’s second in both passing yards (2,842) and TD passes (26). He’s also averaging 355 passing yards per game (4th nationally). Needless to say, the Beavers need to harass Goff and throw him off rhythm. A few sacks wouldn’t hurt either 🙂
4. Use some trickery. Even though the Beavers should have an easier time moving the ball against Cal than they’ve had in weeks, it wouldn’t hurt to open the playbook a little bit. Run some (effective) fly sweeps, throw a flea-flicker, etc. The Beavers need to figure out ways to gain yards easier. Doesn’t it seem like other teams routinely have big plays, while the Beavers have to fight and claw their way for 10 yards?
5. Stellar Secondary. Goff can get rid of the ball quickly and likes to spread it out among different receivers. So the Beaver defensive backs need to be physical and prevent the Cal WRs from getting breaking away. Big plays are the quickest way to fall behind, as the Beavers found out last week against Stanford. It also will be important for the DBs to fight through screens and snuff out the ball carrier.
Game Prediction: 38-31, OSU. The Beavers’ offense will have an easier time against Cal, and put up some much needed points, just enough to hold off the Golden Bears’ high-flying offense. The OSU defense will help slow down Cal by forcing a few turnovers, and Trevor Romaine will hit a key field goal.
What are your predictions/thoughts about Saturday’s game?