When the schedule was released for the 2012 season, the final game of the regular season was generally chalked up as a likely win amidst other tough games, even for those scarred by years of painful games against the Beavers.
Yeah, about that . . .
Oregon State collectively probably isn't quite as good as their record and ranking suggest. But they're plenty good, much better than they were last year, and they'll be rewarded with a nice bowl in a few weeks. Their defense has turned in some really impressive performances against better offenses than Cal, and so for the nth week in a row, optimism is low. As always, let's dive in:
Oregon State's defensive turnaround from 2011 is an interesting example of rebuilding. Only 4 seniors are starting, and two of them were injured for major portions of their junior seasons. Last year's forced youth movement has resulted in a defense with a ton of experienced sophomores and juniors - only two starters weren't starting last year.
Against the Run
Against the Pass
Stats of Dubious Value
Like I mentioned above, Oregon State just isn't a team that blows you out. Their offense isn't that good and their defense, while solid, isn't impregnable. But they are masters of slowing things down, keeping plays in front of them, and forcing teams to play really really disciplined offense to move the ball. They limit big plays and they don't make mistakes, and that means that the Beavers are really tough to beat if you spot them a lead.
Does Cal have the pieces to do that? Maybe, if things fall right. I think Cal's running game can potentially stay ahead of the chains and mostly keep Bridgford out of the obvious passing downs that OSU will almost assuredly dominate.
What it will take is consistent blocking, no penalties, no turnovers (duh) and just generally no execution errors. If you think that sounds like Cal's offense, then you're an optimistic person and I admire you. I truly believe that Cal has a game like that in them. Unfortunately, that game might have been against UCLA. One might logically conclude that if they did it once they could do it again. I'd like to see that on Saturday. There's always hope.