Cal QB looking to erase bad memory against Beavers

BY foxsports • November 6, 2009

At least now the Golden Bears senior quarterback can laugh about it.

Riley, who has No. 23 Cal back in the Top 25 after a six-week absence, chuckled when remembering the play that ended the Golden Bears' dreams of national recognition and made him a constant feature on highlight shows.

"You'd see it on TV, and a week after I remember everybody staring at it not saying anything," Riley said. "And I'd go, 'Hey everybody, I'm on TV,' trying to lighten up the mood a little bit."

Riley was forced to re-live memories of that infamous day against the Beavers in 2007 this week as the Golden Bears returned home to host Oregon State in a pivotal Pac-10 matchup for both teams on Saturday.

Cal (6-2, 3-2 Pac-10) has won three straight after consecutive blowout losses to Oregon and USC, and is coming off a 23-21 victory at Arizona State in which Riley engineered a late fourth-quarter drive that led to the game-winning score.

Instead of basking in the glow of that win, though, Riley has had to answer questions about that ill-fated play against the Beavers two years ago.

The Golden Bears, then the No. 2 team in the nation, were on the cusp of taking over the top spot after No. 1 LSU lost earlier in the day.

Riley, who was making his first college start in place of injured quarterback Nate Longshore, played well for most of the game and had Cal on Oregon State's 12-yard line in the final minute while trailing 31-28.

But on first down with his receivers covered, Riley tried to run the ball instead of throwing it away. He was tackled after a 2-yard gain and, with no timeouts remaining, the Bears were unable to get their field goal unit on the field in time as the last seconds ticked off the clock.

"It was a big mistake, that's all there is to it," Riley said. "I knew the situation but when the play developed I forgot about it and tried to move up in the pocket and make a play. It didn't work out. Now if I was in that situation, I just would have thrown it out of bounds right away."

Oregon State (5-3, 3-2) has won eight of the last 10 games between the two teams, including four straight at Memorial Stadium. But Beavers coach Mike Riley is leery of a Cal team that comes in with the 18th-highest scoring offense in the country.

"There are a lot of things you have to play against when you play Cal," Mike Riley said. "They're always a crack away from a big play. Kevin Riley has had a ton of deep passes this year, play-action down the field (stuff). He has the capability of reaching most spots on the field."

Oregon State must also contend with running back Jahvid Best, who has 838 yards and 11 TDs on the ground this season. A contender for the Heisman Trophy, Best has been held under 100 yards only three times this season, including last week against Arizona State when he had just 63 yards on 18 carries.

The Beavers counter with their own potent ground game led by brothers Jacquizz and James Rodgers. Jacquizz Rodgers leads Oregon State in rushing (922 yards, 14 TDs) and is second in receptions (49 for 371 yards) while James Rodgers is second in rushing (223 yards) and first in receptions (60 for 706 yards, 5 TDs).

"It never seems to change with them," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "Offensively they're as explosive as anyone. I don't know that you're ever going to stop them completely."

Oregon State has won three of its last four after opening the season 2-2. The Beavers beat UCLA 26-19 on Halloween a week after losing to then-No. 4 USC 42-36.

Quarterback Sean Canfield leads the Pac-10 in passing and is coming off back-to-back 300-yard games with no interceptions, giving the Beavers a consistent complement to the running of the Rodgers brothers.

But it could come down to the play of Cal's quarterback. Kevin Riley, the Oregon native who spurned a chance to play for the Beavers in order to attend Berkeley. He needs to end his career against Oregon State better than it began if the Bears are going to remain in the Top 25.

"They do what they do and they do it well," Riley said of the Beavers. "I haven't beat them when I've played. Both years we've had chances to beat them, and we haven't."