Cal visits Oregon State with both teams struggling
With their fan bases getting antsy and both needing two wins to even think about playing in a bowl game, California and Oregon State meet Saturday night in hopes of righting downward turns.
The Golden Bears (4-4, 2-4 Pac-12) limp into Corvallis with three straight losses. The Beavers (4-3, 1-3) are the first of four opponents left on Cal’s schedule, followed by USC in Los Angeles and Stanford and BYU at home.
”I’d like to win all four of them, that’s the thing,” Cal quarterback Jared Goff said. ”I’d like to win the one this weekend. You can’t really think about the future that much. It’s a one week at a time thing and at the end of the year you’re rewarded for how many games you win.”
Goff is coming off his school-record breaking 11th game with more than 300 yards passing – a 59-41 loss at Levi’s Stadium to No. 5 Oregon. The sophomore QB threw for 360 total yards and two touchdowns.
The Beavers are facing a similar predicament.
Oregon State has lost its last two, including a 38-14 thumping at Stanford last weekend. The Beavers will have four left after the Golden Bears: Washington State, Arizona State, Washington and Oregon. Three of the last four are at Reser Stadium.
The ever-positive Mike Riley is being just that about the Beavers’ immediate future.
”I’ve enjoyed this team. They’ve worked hard. They’ve been easy to coach. There’s been good leadership,” he said on his weekly conference call with reporters. ”And that’s why I think we’ve got a chance to bounce back.”
Here are some other things to consider when Cal visits Oregon State on Saturday:
MANNION HANGS TOUGH: The season certainly hasn’t gone as expected for Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion. But Riley said the fifth-year senior is handling it like the team captain he is. ”He’s got young receivers and we’ve got a hodge-podge of offensive linemen,” Riley said. ”It’s impressive. He’s hanging right with it.”
RECORD WATCH: Mannion needs 194 more passing yards to break the Pac-12 passing record. He currently has 12,134 yards, sitting in second behind former USC QB Matt Barkley, who set the record with 12,327. The record is a real possibility considering that Cal’s passing defense is allowing 383 yards per game, and Mannion is averaging 243 per game. He also needs five more touchdown passes to surpass Derek Anderson (2001-04) for the Oregon State record of 79.
FACING PRO-STYLE: The Beavers run a more pro-style offense, so the Golden Bears will face a challenge that appears totally unlike what they prepared for last week against the Ducks and their spread. ”It’s a little different,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. ”Everybody pretty much runs the same type of plays, whether the quarterback is under center or in the gun. It changes your passing (defense) a little bit.”
ESTABLISHING A RUN: Cal is known for its ”Bear Raid” passing attack under Dykes, but last week the Bears ventured into the triple digits on the ground against Oregon, with 193 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns. The versatile Daniel Lasco, who had one of those TDs, has rushed for 608 yards and seven scores this season while collecting 304 receiving yards and two touchdowns. ”It definitely makes it a little bit easier for me when we’re able to do some good things in the run game,” Goff said. ”It allows the pass to open more and makes the linebackers and safeties honor the run more.”
HISTORY: The Beavers have won the last two against Cal and six of the last seven, but the Golden Bears still hang on to a 34-32 overall series lead against Oregon State. Last season, Mannion threw for 493 yards and four touchdowns in a 49-17 rout at Cal. The Beavers have outscored the Golden Bears 111-31 in the last two games.