Nik Jam: It's a game the Bears need to win if they want a Bowl berth. Even if it's a close win like in 2014, we just need to get there. I know it's a road game and Oregon State will not have the year they had last year. I still think we should be better.
Avinash: Oregon State is going to be bad. Most of their quarterbacks are gone, and the one who remains is now a wide receiver. Their two best offensive lineman are gone. The Beavers will actually have most of their defense back, so they shouldn't be too shabby on that side, particularly in the pass game. But I struggle to figure out how Oregon State scores enough points to beat the explosive offenses in the conference.
On the flip side, the Beavers did manage to keep it competitive with Cal for a half, and I doubt the Bears will be as consistent offensively without Goffense and in Corvallis. What are the ways in which you can see the Beavers giving Cal trouble?
Nick Kranz: Oregon State in 2015 was basically Cal in 2013, if Cal didn't have Jared Goff, avatar of hope. And after a bunch of injuries and transfers, there is still zero indication that Oregon State has a quarterback better than Pac-12 replacement level performance. Combine that with a depth chart that's still lacking in nearly every position group for either experience or talent, and it's really really hard to see how Oregon State isn't the worst team in the conference by a wide margin again.
It's lucky that Cal has OSU on the road, because it's the one team in the conference in which Cal would clearly be a favorite away from Memorial. Of course, that means that it's a pseudo-must-win-road-game, which makes me (irrationally?) nervous . . .
Andy Johnston: Of all the games on our schedule, this is probably the easiest to pick. That being said, if not for a solid win in 2014 in Corvallis the Bears have a dark and dreary past facing the Beavers at home. Gary Andersen's team should be improved from last year yet not ready to face an experienced Pac-12 team with a loaded offense. The Bears have to win this convincingly if we are going to truly compete in the Pac-12 this season.
boomtho: I don't have any opinion of Gary Andersen as a coach, but Gary Andersen + OSU in 2016 is a seriously downtrodden program. They don't have a ton of talent and the Pac-12 North for OSU is a real grind... because they don't get to play OSU. This is a game Cal must have in order to sustain dreams of bowl eligibility. If Cal loses this game, I honestly wouldn't be surprised if Cal loses every game after. And that would be a terrible season for the Bears.