September 29, 2006

Cal-Oregon State Preview

The No. 20-ranked Golden Bears look to extend their winning streak to four games when they visit the unranked Beavers in Corvallis on Saturday.

Oregon State has had California's number recently, winning six of the last seven meetings-including last year's 23-20 victory at Memorial Stadium.

California (3-1, 1-0 Pac-10) comes into this game red-hot after a convincing 49-21 victory over Arizona State. The Golden Bears dominated all phases of the game, scoring four offensive touchdowns, one defensive touchdown and a special teams touchdown for good measure.

The Golden Bears have rebounded nicely since their season-opening loss at Tennessee, winning their last three games by 35, 25 and 28 points respectively. California, who leads the Pac-10 in scoring with 37.8 points per-game and ranks second with 444.5 yards per-game, is led by its sophomore quarterback, Nate Longshore.

Longshore, already a two-time Pac-10 player of the week this season, continues his impressive play after an 18-26 performance for 270 yards and four touchdowns against Arizona State. On the season Longshore is completing 66 per cent of his passing with 10 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Longshore leads the Pac-10 in passing efficiency and ranks ninth nationally.

California receiver DeSean Jackson continues his excellent season and with six touchdown receptions is tied for first in the nation. Jackson, who may be the best receiver the rest of the nation hasn't heard of, had four catches for 67 yards and a touchdown last week. The sophomore also showed his versatility, as he returned a Sun Devil punt 80 yards for another touchdown. Jackson continues to be Longshore's favorite target, leading the team with 20 catches for 371 yards. The Long Beach wide out is also averaging over 12 yards per punt return.

Oregon State (2-1) opens its Pac-10 season following a 38-0 victory over Idaho. It was the Beavers' first shutout since a scoreless tie with Oregon in 1983. Oregon State forced six turnovers and held Idaho to 185 total yards. It was a nice turnaround for the Beavers, who lost their previous game 42-14, at Boise State.

The Beavers bring one of the nation's best pass defenses into Saturday's match up. Oregon State has yielded just one passing touchdown and currently leads the Pac-10 in passing yards allowed per-game (123.3) and rank second in total yards allowed (239.3).

However, despite the Beavers' great defensive effort Saturday and their excellent numbers against the pass, Oregon State has been susceptible playing the run. Against Boise State, the defense allowed Ian Johnson to rush for 240 yards and five touchdowns, which surely has California running back Marshawn Lynch licking his chops.

Lynch comes off his third straight 100-yard game, a career first, and is averaging an unbelievable 7.2 yards per-carry. The junior running back is averaging 112 yards per-game (ranks 12th nationally) and should expect to get the ball early and often on Saturday.

Oregon State is not all about defense though. The Beavers have their own star running back in junior Yvenson Bernard. Bernard averages 110 yards per-game (13th nationally) and is averaging five-yards per carry to go along with four touchdowns. The junior is coming off a 117-yard, two touchdown performance against Idaho.

Senior quarterback Matt Moore has had an up-and-down start to the 2006 campaign, splitting time with redshirt freshman Sean Canfield. Moore, who led the nation with 19 interceptions in 2005, has thrown just two this season. However, Moore is completing only 56 per cent of his passes. If Moore struggles early and turns the ball over, don't be surprise to see Oregon State coach Mike Riley making the quick switch to Canfield.

It won't be easy for Moore, who will be facing an aggressive and ball hawking California defense. The Golden Bears are tied for fourth nationally with eight interceptions, and have forced 11 turnovers in four games. California's defense looked imposing against Arizona State, led by senior cornerback Daymeion Hughes. He had two of the team's four interceptions, and returned one for his second touchdown of the season (the fourth of his career).

The Beavers are going to have to effectively run the ball with Bernard in order to keep the pressure off Moore and they must stay out of obvious passing situations and limit turnovers. If the Oregon State offense constantly finds itself in third and long situations, it might be a long day for both Moore and Canfield.

Notes: California leads the all-time series 32-26. Jeff Tedford is 1-3 against Oregon State as head coach of California. The Golden Bears are 8-11 in Corvallis.



 

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