[We're talking OSU Beavers today. We spoke with AndyPanda over at SBN's Oregon State site, BuildingTheDam. He provides his thoughts at the end of the piece. Enjoy!]
TwistNHook: Another game that I just don't feel very strong about. Maybe this is the year we defeat OSU and end the streak, but the Beavers always seem to have our number. Away. Home. It doesn't matter, we can't seem to make headway against the Orange and Black. How do all y'all (correct usage!) see the Oregon State game turning out for Cal???
Berkelium97: Oregon State has delivered to us some of the most painful losses in recent years. In 2007 it was the Kevin Riley fiasco, in 2008 a pair of Alamar Specials and Riley's pick-six masked an otherwise impressive defensive effort, in 2009 they ended Jahvid Best's career at Cal, and in 2010 they ended Kevin Riley's career at Cal. You know what? The streak stops this year.
The Beavers lost a huge part of their offense when Quizz unexpectedly declared for the draft. His brother James will return, but he is coming off two knee surgeries this offseason. Remember Joe "Another Tight End Touchdown" Halahuni? He underwent offseason surgery to repair a shoulder injury. They do return young QB Ryan Katz, whose stats were okay last season (60.0% but only 6.76 ypa, 17 TDs, 11 ints). Markus Wheaton should be a good replacement for Quizz, but I doubt he will transform into the remarkable player Quizz was.
On defense they return only four starters from a unit that gave up 27 points and over 400 yards per game last season (though they did manage to hold Cal and USC to 7 points each).
The Beavers underperformed last season and will likely bounce back from the 5-7 season, but they have a lot of work to do before they reach their '08-'09 levels where they nearly took the conference title. If they manage not to injure one of our critical offensive players (someone give Keenan Allen some body armor), if Pete Alamar's ghost does not continue to haunt us, and if Maynard does not lose his mind, the Beavers will have their work cut out for them in San Francisco on November 12th.
Of course, crazy things happen when we play OSU so I would not be shocked if we find a new and unimaginably agonizing way to lose.
NorCalNick: I've been decidedly pessimistic about OSU's chances this year, to the point where I thought Cal should be a solid favorite over the Beavers at home. The news that James Rodgers should return healthy might push the game more towards a toss-up. But I still think Cal could win.
Atomsareenough: Let me just say it straight up: I hate the Beavers. I hate them more than any other team in the conference except Stanfurd. Yeah, USC is annoying in football and UCLA is annoying in basketball, but OSU is straight up annoying, period. I hate their stupid Halloween Giants colors, I don't like their mascot, I don't like their band, I don't really like anything about them except that I guess Oregon seems like a nice enough state, which is way more than I can say about say, Arizona. I don't like watching us play them, in any sport. Somehow it feels like they've cornered the market on "irritatingly overachieving". Their style of play in basketball is not at all pleasing to watch. I have an irrational fear of their football players. Yvenson Bernard still looms large in my mind, and part of me wonders how that guy didn't end up a Pro Bowler, let alone even actually in the NFL. I've now grown to associate Oregon State with a feeling of impending doooooooom.
Berkelium97: Offensive line should be a weakness for the Beavs this season. Although they return four starters, they gave up 35 sacks last year (Cal was only sacked 23 times). Even with Quizz in the backfield, they only averaged 3.76 yards per carry, while the Bears averaged 4.44 ypc. As bad as our O-line was last year, we might have actually had a better line than Oregon State.
With our front seven, we should be able to exploit their rebuilding running game and shaky pass protection. In Pendergast we trust.
Kodiak: For whatever reason, it always feels like Mike Riley's defense is a bad matchup for Jeff Tedford's offense. They don't do a lot of things schematically, but their guys fly to the ball. They like to play tight bump and run with their corners to force you to beat them over the top. If you can't establish your running game, and your wideouts have trouble getting clean releases, it can play havoc with your offensive rhythm. Aaron Rodgers didn't have too many off games, but I distinctly remember that one of them came against OSU.
TwistNHook: Any score predictions?
Berkelium97: Unless Ryan Katz, Joe Halahuni, and James Rodgers turn into All-Pac-12 players against us (which I'm not necessarily ruling out), the Bears will have their best chance in years to give Tedford his first home-game win over Oregon State.
Cal 21, Beavs 17
LeonPowe: Isn't James Rodgers already an all Pac Performer? Anyway, I think a close win for the Bears 24-17
Atomsareenough: Maynard has a great game, Bigelow makes some tantalizing plays, the defense is solid.... Cal 35, OSU 20.
AndyPanda: A couple of notes, the two defensive players that were in question, Masaniai and Glover, now appear to have their issues taken care of.
Coach Riley's incredibly slow and cautious approach with a number of players coming back from issues, Rodgers included, could get the Beavers off to a slow start, but by the time we come down to SF, it will be so late in the year that will be history. Unless the team gets in such a deep hole the season is lost early on, I do expect last year's late season struggle to be replaced by another stronger finish, more typical of Riley's teams and his approach.
My main concerns remain whether Oregon St. can run the ball, and that's on the line much more than the backs, or stop the run, due to the lack of size on the front 7 other than a couple of players.
I find the parallels between these two teams remarkable, as both could contend for the division if everything goes right, and they get some help (called the UofO-Stanford game going the right way), and either team could also fall all the way to the bottom if the answer to enough of the questions turns out to be "no".
Neither outcome is likely because its so unlikely that everything will go right, or wrong, and both are probably headed along with Washington for a heck of a battle in the middle of the pack. When I go to AT&T, I expect to be covering what is probably a bowl-game qualifier or elimination game for both teams.
Even the quarterback situation is similar. For good reasons, both at your place and ours, the home beat guys are higher on their guy than everyone else. There seems to be a lot of optimism for Maynard in Bear land, while most of the rest of us that cover the Pac I think have a wait and see attitude. Similarly, your crew looks at Katz's overall numbers and rightfully have similar reservations.
I think that's because at least some of your crew has seen Maynard up close multiple times, and have more data to work with. The same is the case with Katz. Those of us who see him on a daily basis know what the potential is.
The same applies down through both rosters. The next few weeks is all about which young men approach their potential, and which staff best sees into the future and makes the right call about who to use where, and how.
I have a feeling your guys and Connor and I will write a lot of stories this fall where we could cut and paste names and not really be sure which story is which.