ON PAPER IT would seem that the Oregon State vs. Cal is a dead-even matchup. Both teams enter with 3-2 conference records, sport star-studded offenses and have faced questions about their defense this year. Closer inspection, however, reveals something decidedly different.
deeper than the surface, it would seem that these two dead-equal teams are
headed in dead-opposite directions. Oregon State seems to be playing its' best
football as of late, while the Bears --
despite reeling off 3 wins in a row -- are
not playing up to expectations at all.
California's two losses were blowouts (defeats to Oregon by 39 points, and USC by 27),
and their 23-21 nailbiter over a less-than-stellar Arizona State squad last week, a team the Beavers fairly well
hammered in Tempe, left a lot to be
desired. Even more troubling for the Golden Bears was the fact that only a pair
of field goals separated Cal from being blanked by both Oregon and
Oregon State this weekend puts Cal at a
crossroads -- Either the Tedheads will
"get right" and salvage their season, or they'll
fold up the tents.
The news gets worse for Cal fans. Oregon State has just about considered Strawberry Canyon their
home-away-from-home, winning four straight in Berkeley. The Beavers are
by-and-large healthy across the board, while Cal is banged up at key
likely be without their starting nose guard on defense and their offensive line
is banged up. Reports are that star
running back Jahvid Best may be out or at the very least limited after
sustaining a concussion and Cal's talented
tight end Anthony Miller will be watching from the sidelines as
Bottom line it
and the Beavers have every chance in the world to come away with yet
another win at Memorial Stadium this weekend. Here are the keys to victory...
Running the ball well takes away Cal's ability to
blitz our of their 3-4 defensive set, and sets Oregon State up to drive the
stake through their collective heart with play action.
Earlier this week Mike Riley stated that the
Beavers' ground game "has been very important and will be once
Syd'Quan out of
Aside from Jahvid Best, the most dangerous
player on the Cal side may very well be Syd'Quan Thompson.
There is a reason why Oregon State recruited
Thompson so heavily and why it was such a bitter pill to swallow when he chose
Thompson is an outstanding corner and punt returner
who is dangerous with the ball anywhere near him. OSU needs to keep the ball
out of his hands.
Get after Kevin Riley early|
Cal signal caller usually sets the tone for his day on the field early. And
he has shown that he suffers from
the lack of short term memory so critical for successful quarterbacks.
Riley has huge
upside but tends to be streaky -- so good
plays beget more, but bad plays seem to shake his confidence badly and lead to
more as well.
Putting Cal in a
hole and putting pressure on a mentally fragile QB will make garnering a victory
a lot easier.
- Flat Isn't In Our Vocabulary:
Oregon State came out early and put points on the board, which was good. They
were again a bit inefficient in the red zone, settling for field goals 4 out of
their first 5 trips into the red zone, with some key penalties that forced a FG
attempt instead of a TD drive. Grade: B-
- Keep On Keeping On: The Beavers
needed to continue their trend of limiting turnovers, and again Quizz extended
his superhuman streak to 500 touches without a fumble, and Canfield had another
interception-free outing (despite one incredibly frightening moment shared with
Alterraun Verner). Grade: A
- Bend But Don't Break: The BeaverFootball.com staff has elected to grade this particular category by
quarter: 1st Q: A 2nd Q: A 3rd Q: B 4th Q: F-minus. Yikes. Talk about
letting down: UCLA threw for over 200 yards in the final quarter of
play, giving up 2 plays of over 40 yards and 4 plays of over 20 yards in the
last 10 minutes of the game. Rumor is that heart medication prescriptions were
filled at a record rate for OSU fans last Sunday.