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Football: Cal vs. Oregon State facts

Cal vs. Oregon State

KICKOFF: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. at Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Ore.

TV/RADIO: Pac-12 Networks; 810-AM.

RECORDS: Cal 4-4, 2-4 in Pac-12; Oregon State 4-3, 1-3.

SERIES HISTORY: Cal leads 34-32. Oregon Steve has won two in a row, including 49-17 in 2013.

STORYLINES: With four games left, Cal must win at least twice to become bowl eligible for the first time since the 2011 season. After OSU, the Bears have a bye, then play at USC and at home vs. Stanford and BYU. . . . Cal has not won a game in the state of Oregon since 2007, losing the past six to OSU and Oregon by a combined margin of 271-76. Only one of those six was closer than 28 points. . . . OSU senior quarterback and Pleasanton native Sean Mannion needs 194 passing yards to eclipse the Pac-12 career record of 12,327, set by USC’s Matt Barkley (2009-12). . . . OSU has won just one of its past nine Pac-12 games.

INJURY UPDATE: Cal: S Avery Sebastian (quadriceps), WR Trevor Davis (neck), WR Kenny Lawler (ankle) and DE Brennan Scarlett (knee) are out. Oregon State: RB Storm Woods (knee) will play; DE Jashwa James (knee) is questionable; DE Lavonte Barnett (ankle) is doubtful; WR Richard Mullaney (elbow), OL Gavin Andrews (ankle), C Isaac Seumalo (foot), TE Kellen Clute (knee), DT Jalen Grimble (knee), DT Noke Tago (knee) are out.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Cal’s defensive front vs. Oregon State’s offensive line. The Beavers started three sophomores on their O-line last week and got nowhere against Stanford’s stout defense. OSU has absorbed 23 sacks and ranks 11th in the Pac-12 in rushing. Cal’s defensive key is to stop the run and put pressure on quarterback Sean Mannion, who has a big arm but limited mobility. The Bears have defended the run well this season, but are 106th nationally with just 11 sacks.

STATS THAT MATTER: Cal has generated 19 offensive plays of at least 40 yards this season, compared to just 14 all of last season. . . . QB Jared Goff needs 217 passing yards to move past Gale Gilbert into sixth on Cal’s career list. . . . Cal has scored 26 touchdowns on drives of less than 2 minutes, second in the Pac-12 (behind Oregon with 28). OSU has just seven TD drives of that brevity. . . . Freshman reserve QB Luke Rubenzer, in just 48 combined rushes and passes, has produced five touchdowns for the Bears.

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Football: OSU game critical if Bears want a bowl game

The trick for the Cal football team is to turn four into five.

“Everybody’s trying to play five more games and we only have four on the schedule,” running back Daniel Lasco said. “We have to figure out a way to (win) two more.”

Each of the four remaining games counts the same, but if the Bears (4-4, 2-4 Pac-12) realistically hope to reach six victories and become bowl eligible their game Saturday night at Oregon State (4-3, 1-3) is critical.

The rest of the schedule gets no easier, with games at USC and at home against Stanford and BYU. To get that fifth game, the Bears can do no worse than split these four.

Quarterback Jared Goff said the Bears don’t have the luxury of picking which games they want to win.

“I’d like to win four of them, really. Even more important than that, we would like to win this one this weekend,” Goff said. “We can’t really think about the future. You can’t really try to add it up: `We have to win this one, we can’t win that one.’ ”

No they can’t, but there’s no denying the USC and Stanford games will be challenges for the Bears. The Trojans have won 10 straight in the series, and the Cardinal set a Big Game record with a 50-point margin of victory last season.

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Football: Cole Leininger on Ray Guy Award list

Cal junior Cole Leininger is among 80 players nominated for the 2014 Ray Guy Award, given to the nation’s top collegiate punter.

Leininger, among eight Pac-12 punters on the list, is sixth in the conference with a 42.1-yard average. Fourteen of his 37 punts have been downed inside the 20-yard line, and he has seven kicks of at least 50 yards.

The list will be trimmed to 10 semifinalists on Nov. 14, then to three finalists on Nov. 24. The award will be presented Dec. 11 during the Home Depot College Football Awards program on ESPN.

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Football: Cal defense hopes to find relief at OSU

Can the Pac-12′s worst offense be a band-aid for the league’s worst defense? Or will it be the other way around when the Bears visit Oregon State on Saturday night?

Cal, allowing 41.5 points per game, knows that Oregon State’s offensive woes may not continue indefinitely.

OSU quarterback Sean Mannion, who threw 37 touchdowns a year ago, has just seven this fall. The Pleasanton native set a single-season conference passing yardage record last season, but is coming off a 122-yard performance in a 38-14 loss at Stanford.

“It’s bad timing for him in his senior year,” OSU coach Mike Riley said after the Stanford game, “but he will bounce back big-time.”

First-year Cal defensive coordinator Art Kaufman — whose unit ranks last nationally against the pass — has seen enough tape of Mannion to be concerned.

“When he’s on, he can really do it,” Kaufman said of Mannion, who topped 400 yards in a game five times last season. “The thing we’ve got to do is respect the ability of what he can do.”

Of equal concern to Kaufman is what his defense can — and cannot — do.

The Bears are giving up 383.5 passing yards per game and already have surrendered 31 touchdowns through the air — one more than Stanford, Oregon State, Arizona State and USC combined have allowed.

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Cal defensive comparison: 2014 vs. 2013

Category 2014 2013
Points/game 41.0 45.9
Yards/game 533.1 529.6
Yards/play 6.2 7.1
Passing yards/game 383.5 341.0
Pass efficiency rating 151.05 165.44
Rushing yards/game 149.6 188.6
Rushing yards/play 4.1 4.9
Red zone defense .805 .865
Sacks/game 1.38 1.50
Turnovers gained/game 1.50 1.08
First downs/game 28.4 24.8
Third-down conversions .400 .414
Fourth-down conversions .700 .667
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Football: Bears land elite defensive end from Atlanta

Cal got a significant recruiting commitment Wednesday when Russell Ude, a top defensive end from The Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Ga., picked the Bears over a glut of top schools.

Ude, rated as a four-star prospect by Rivals.com, announced his decision on Twitter:

“They Told Me I Couldn’t Do It. Proud To Announce I Am Committed to The University of California #GodIsGood #CalGang15

Scout.com rates Ude as a three-star prospect, but either way he helps address an area of need for the Bears.

Yeah, defense.

Ryan Gorcey of Scout.com reports that Ude actually gave Cal a “secret” commitment two months ago, but decided the time was right to make it public. Oral commitments, of course, are not binding until signing day, and Ude told Scout he still intends to take other visits.

Ude is 6-foot-3 and somewhere between 245 and 260-ish pounds, depending on which website you believe.

Others liked him, too: Oregon, Washington, UCLA and USC showed interest among Pac-12 schools. Wisconsin, West Virginia, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Michigan State also made offers.

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Football notebook: Levi’s Stadium experience considered a success but may not be repeated anytime soon

Cal coach Sonny Dykes said his players all enjoyed the experience of playing in the 49ers’ spiffy, new Levi’s Stadium.

“I’d prefer to have a home game,” he countered.

“We’ve got a beautiful stadium. I don’t like giving away home field advantage. You’re playing, for all intents and purposes, a road game. It’s just different. It’s different for your fans, and there’s some negatives from that standpoint.”

Dykes understands the weeknight game was moved partly for logistical reasons because of parking difficulties on campus, and said he anticipates there would be discussion before a future game is played there.

“It’s really not my area,” he said. “Any coach would prefer to play their home games in their home stadium.”

Interim athletic director Michael Williams understands that position, and agrees keeping games at Memorial Stadium is preferable.

“If it’s up to me, I think the benefits of playing at Memorial Stadium are huge,” Williams said. “I like the home game. Our alums certainly like to be here. Memorial Stadium is a special place.

“I don’t know that we go back to Levi’s anytime soon. I can’t say that it would never happen.”

Asked how well the Bears fared financially, Williams said he believes they made more money at Levi’s than they would have keeping the game in Berkeley.

He stressed how much the players enjoyed it, added, “For the 50 of them who were on the field and won’t play pro football, that will be a highlight forever.”

Still, Williams said, “It’s always better to play here.”

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Cal’s first order of business on Friday night before its game the next day at Oregon State will be to get a good night’s sleep.

The Bears’ most recent visit to Corvallis, two years ago, had a disruptive start when the fire alarm went off in the team hotel sometime after 2 a.m. on the eve of the game.

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Football: Cal, Auburn sign two-year deal for 2019, ’20

Cal has signed a two-year, home-and-home deal with Southeastern Conference power Auburn, the national runnerup last season and the 2010 national champion.

The Bears will visit Auburn on Sept. 21, 2019, with the Tigers making a trip to Berkeley on Sept. 19, 2020.

The teams will be meeting for the first time.

Cal also scheduled three home games for the 2016, ’17 and ’18 seasons.

South Dakota will visit on Sept. 3, 2016, Weber State comes to town on Sept. 9, 2017, and Idaho State will travel to Berkeley on Sept. 15, 2018.

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Football: Dykes said Friday’s injured are OK

The parade of Cal players who were hurt Friday night against Oregon all practiced Sunday and should play when the Bears visit Oregon State on Saturday, coach Sonny Dykes said.

Receivers Kenny Lawler (ankle), Bryce Treggs (shoulder) and Chris Harper (back) all are expected back, along with defensive end Todd Barr and linebacker Jake Kearney, who also were banged up in the 59-41 loss to Oregon.

A year ago, Dykes noted that some players weren’t committed to playing through minor injuries or pain.

“It just shows our program is growing tremendously,” Dykes said. “The guys want to practice, they understand it’s important.

“It used to be a little bit of a badge of honor to get out of practice.  It just shows the buy-in is better than ever – guys are working through stuff better than ever.”

Dykes said he’s not sure about the status of defensive end Brennan Scarlett, who has missed the past three games with a sprained knee.

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Football: Bears confident heading into Oregon State week

After its 59-41 loss to No. 6 Oregon at Levi’s Stadium, Cal can make this double-edged claim: No college football team in the country plays higher-scoring games than the Bears.

The average combined scoring total of Cal’s first eight games is 82.5 points, sure to exceed any weekly over/under listing from Las Vegas. The Oregon game was the third in which the Bears and their opponent reached 100 points.

That equation of potent offense and porous defense also has netted a 4-4 overall record (2-4 in Pac-12) after a 4-1 start, meaning the Bears’ road to six wins and bowl eligibility no longer has an express lane. They need to go at least 2-2, and the remaining schedule includes USC on the road and Stanford at home.

“We’ve got a confident bunch of guys in that locker room,” safety Stefan McClure said late Friday night. “We know we’re 4-4 and we’ve got four games left. We’ve got some winnable games coming up. We’ll be ready to go.”

Next up is a Saturday game at Oregon State, which scored 111 points against the Bears the past two seasons. But fans shouldn’t expect another offensive free-for-all in Corvallis. The Beavers have been better on defense than offense this season, and entered Saturday’s game at Stanford having neither scored nor allowed more than 38 points in a game.

Cal quarterback Jared Goff, who passed for 360 yard and two touchdowns against the Ducks, said the Bears emerged with a boost of self-esteeem.

“We learned we can compete with anybody,” he said.

Oregon coach Mark Helfrich was impressed after the Bears scored 10 more points on his team than any opponent this season.

“Offensively, those guys are lights out,” he said.

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