There was lots of talk among Cal players today about finding a way to beat Oregon State. The Beavers have hung four straight losses on the Bears (and they’ve won 7 of the last 9), and it’s amazing when you think back on the bizarre circumstances surrounding some of those defeats:
*The infamous Kevin Riley fumble of 2007 that kept Cal from being the top-ranked team in the country
*The awful tumble that led to a season-ending concussion for running back Jahvid Best in 2009
*The season-ending knee injury suffered by Riley in last year’s lopsided loss in Corvallis.
I doubt that the sight of Oregon State uniforms makes a Cal fan’s blood boil like some other conference rivals would, but holy cow, the Beavers have laid some hurt on this team.
More on that storyline in tomorrow’s paper …
–Teams are rolling up 171.2 yards per game on the ground against Oregon State, so expect Cal to try to pound away with the running game as it did against Washington State. As for the Beavers offense, they like to fling it behind redshirt freshman quarterback Sean Mannion, a local boy from Foothill High School in Pleasanton. With no real running game to support him, he’s thrown the second-most passes in the conference (behind Arizona’s Nick Foles), and according to the reports I’ve read, Mannion has impressed with his strong arm, poise and presence in the pocket. Oregon State coach Mike Riley mentioned this morning on a media conference call that he considers Cal to have a very aggressive secondary, and he believes a key to Oregon State’s success is giving Mannion enough time to throw. Cal coach Jeff Tedford liked the way his defensive line stuffed the run against Washington State, but he would have preferred more pressure on the quarterback. That’s something to watch for Saturday …