Beavers continue winning ways in Berkeley
BERKELEY, Calif. — Oregon State continued its road dominance over California on Saturday, winning for the fifth straight time in Berkeley, 31-14, and the Beavers' defense was the primary reason this time.
The Beavers limited Cal to 239 yards of total offense — the Bears second-lowest total of the season — and their lowest output at home since 2003, when Oregon State held Cal to 237 yards in another of Oregon State's strong performances in Berkeley.
The Beavers' defense may have been even better this time, because 62 of the Bears' yards came in the final two minutes after Oregon State had built a 31-7 lead.
"This may have been as good a defensive performance as we've had, because they are really explosive," Oregon State head coach Mike Riley said.
The Bears entered the game ranked second in the Pac-10 in scoring, averaging 33.6 points, and third in total offense at 427.4 yards a game.
Certainly, the Beavers' defensive effort was aided by the absence of Cal's standout running back Jahvid Best, who had to be taken off the field in a stretcher after landing on his back and neck at the end of a second-quarter touchdown run.
But Oregon State had been controlling Cal's offense even while Best was in there. He had just 29 yards on nine carries for only 3.2 yards per carry.
"Best is one of their star players, but they have a lot of weapons," Oregon State safety Cameron Collins said. "It was one of the most complete games we've put together. We let down a little in the fourth quarter so it wasn't a complete, complete game."
Cal did not score in the first quarter, and the Beavers have now yielded a total of just 17 first-quarter points over the past 10 games dating back to last season.
CANFIELD ON FIRE: Oregon State quarterback Sean Canfield continued his recent success by completing 29 of 39 passes for 342 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Riley said the team's biggest improvement over the course of the season has been its passing game.
"We have the top passer in the conference, and you wouldn't have said that after the first couple games," Riley said.
Canfield entered the game ranked first in the Pac-10 in passing yardage per game and third in pass efficiency and will improve his numbers in both categories. He is completing 69.6 percent of his passes for the season, which would set a school single-season record if he maintains it.
Canfield was particularly impressive early in the game, completing 13 of 15 passes and moving the team for scores while star running back Jacquizz Rodgers was held in check by Cal.
Over his past three games, Canfield has completed 72.4 percent of his passes (84-for-116).
RODGERS HELD IN CHECK: Rodgers had just 67 yards rushing, a season low, and 44 of his yards came in the final nine minutes after the Beavers already had a 24-7 lead.
Rodgers had just five yards on 10 carries in the first half, but the Beavers still led 21-7 at halftime.
Rodgers' per-game rushing average dropped to 109.8 yards a game, but he is just 11 yards shy of his second 1,000-yard rushing season.
"You're going to have some games where teams are stopping the run, so you have to make some plays downfield," Canfield said.
GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP: When Best was injured and lay on the ground surrounded by medical personnel, the Oregon State players on the field formed a circle and got down on a knee.
"We said a little prayer for him," Collins said.
Best was injured after leaping high into the air at the goal-line, then being hurled even higher by Collins, who was attempting a tackle. Best then flipped over in midair and landed hard on his upper back and shoulder as his helmet flew off. He was taken off the field on a stretcher and moved to a nearby hospital.
The initial report said Best had sustained a concussion but that he had movement in all his extremities.
QUICK HITS: With their sixth win, the Beavers became bowl-eligible for the fourth straight year, a school record. ... Oregon State has not lost at Cal since 1997, Riley's first year as Oregon State's head coach. ... The past two Beavers wins in Berkeley came when Cal was nationally ranked and the Beavers weren't. Cal was ranked No. 2 when Oregon State beat the Bears in 2007, and the Bears were No. 23 in the Associated Press poll this time.
"It's great," Canfield said. "There's something about Berkeley. I love playing here, the historic stadium and all."