Golden Nuggets: "I can sleep like a baby because I know he's running the rock."

Once more, Shane Vereen will be expected to lead the Cal offense this weekend.

Now, as they head to Seattle for Saturday's regular-season finale against Washington, it requires no exhaustive video study to identify the key figure in Cal's offense. He wears No. 34, bursts through holes with striking efficiency and, much like Best, is difficult to catch in the open field.

Here's telling statistical evidence: Vereen, not Best, might extend Cal's streak of having a running back gain 1,000 or more yards (seven years and counting). Vereen stands at 738 yards this season, so he needs to average 131 against Washington and Cal's not-yet-determined bowl opponent.

That's realistic, especially if Best misses the bowl game. Best, with 867 yards, could reach the century mark if he returns for the bowl game and reclaims his starting job.

Either way, the ball remains in reliable hands - and among friends. Vereen paid tribute to Best on his eye black against Arizona, wearing Best's jersey number (4) under one eye and his initials under the other. Best, standing outside Cal's locker room after the Big Game, said simply and nonchalantly of Vereen, "I knew he was just as good as me."

"I'm very pleased with how Shane has come in and done a fantastic job," Gould said. "I'm not surprised at all. ... I told him I can sleep like a baby because I know he's running the rock."

...

But Tedford wasn't surprised Vereen could handle it - Tedford didn't hesitate to say he could envision Vereen carrying the ball 42 times again.

"He can do that because he's in great shape," Tedford said.

The Bears probably will lean on Vereen against Washington, partly because of December weather in the Pacific Northwest. The forecast is decent - a high of 44 degrees, low of 32, no rain expected - but the chilly temperatures still seem better suited to running the ball, especially if Cal takes an early lead.

After the jump I have more confusion for Cal's bowl season, the gameday weather forecast, more on Vereen, a look at a couple Bears who attended high school near Seattle, a couple previews of the Cal-UW matchup, Wilner's pick for Cal-UW, injury updates, and more.

Cal Football

The stream of criticism has died down, at least for now. And compared to seasons past, Cal’s total-defense numbers and takeaways are pretty much in line with the others.

In fact, if Cal fans stepped back, they’d realize in terms of bang for their buck, they are getting a pretty solid return. Gregory’s defenses have averaged nearly 26 takeaways in his eight seasons – which would rank in the top 20 nationally almost every season.

All this despite the 46-year-old still being the third-lowest paid defensive coordinator in the Pac-10 ($241,320).

    Cal Basketball
    • After the blowout loss to Baylor, Joanne Boyle is pleased with how her team responded when facing Ohio St, another top-10 team.  Although the Bears lost, they kept it a relatively close game and were much better about establishing a consistent tempo and flow throughout the game.  With a likely matchup against Texas A&M, Cal will have another chance to take on a top-10 team.
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