For the Cal football team, all the season-long subplots will fade into what’s expected to be a wet and dreary Saturday night at Oregon State’s Reser Stadium.
The Bears’ season-ending matchup vs. the Beavers isn’t a referendum on coach Jeff Tedford’s future — the good and bad of his 11-year tenure will be sorted out Sunday when he meets with athletic director Sandy Barbour to discuss what’s next.
Still, Tedford is the focal point in a game that offers few tangible rewards for the Bears. He has guided the Bears (3-8, 2-6 Pac-12) to heights they hadn’t enjoyed in a half-century and became Cal’s winningest all-time coach. Now he presides over a program that has won just 15 times in its past 38 games.
“It’s frustrating. My expectations were way higher,” senior running back Isi Sofele said. “We have one more game. We’re going to come out and give it all we’ve got. This is our bowl game.”
Of course, it’s really not. The Bears are missing bowl season for the second time in three seasons after seven straight post-season appearances.
Click here to rest the rest of my Cal-Oregon State game preview.
CAL VS. OREGON STATE
RECORDS: Cal 3-8, 2-6 in Pac-12; Oregon State 7-2, 5-2
KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Reser Stadium, Corvallis, Ore.
TV: Pac-12 Networks
SERIES HISTORY: Cal leads 34-30. Cal won 23-6 in 2011, but Oregon State has won four of the past five meetings.
STORYLINES: Will this be Cal coach Jeff Tedford’s final game? He is experiencing his worst season in 11 years at Berkeley and the Bears hope to avoid becoming the first Cal team since 1984 to lose their final five games of the season. Either way, Tedford and athletic director Sandy Barbour are expected to meet Sunday to discuss the future of the program. … Pleasanton native Sean Mannion, who passed for an OSU freshman record 3,328 yards last season, is healthy again and will start against the Bears.
INJURY UPDATE: Cal — WR Bryce Treggs (ankle) is questionable. OT Matt Summers-Gavin (knee), QB Zach Maynard (knee/flu) and WR Keenan Allen (knee) are out. Oregon State — LB D.J. Alexander (ribs) is probable; QB Cody Vaz (ankle) and OG Grant Enger (ankle) are out.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Cal’s running game vs. OSU’s run defense. The Bears, who average 182 rushing yards per game, ran the ball effectively against Oregon last week and hope to once more in order to help protect inexperienced junior QB Allan Bridgford. But the Beavers are stout up front and rank second in the Pac-12 in rushing defense, allowing just 99.7 yards per game. In a nutshell: If the Bears cannot run, they’re in trouble.
STATS THAT MATTER: Oregon State’s defense has allowed just one opponent to score more than 26 points. The Bears have surrendered 26 or more in seven games. … The Bears have been outscored 150-60 during their four-game losing streak. … Cal’s RB trio of C.J. Anderson (729 yards), Isi Sofele (653) and Brendan Bigelow (412) is just 206 yards shy of reaching 2,000. … OSU wideouts Brandin Cooks and Markus Wheaton have combined for 118 receptions.