BearTerritory publisher Ryan Gorcey and BeaverBlitz.com publisher Angie Machado break down Saturday's Pac-10 match-up, unit-by-unit.
CALIFORNIA GOLDEN BEARS
OREGON STATE BEAVERS
Anchored by safeties Chris Conte and Sean Cattouse, the secondary has really come on strong at midseason. RS freshman CB Steve Williams has shed the cast on his right hand, sports some advanced instincts in pass coverage and is easily one of the fastest players on the team.
Senior Mike Mohamed is ninth in the Pac-10 with 45 tackles and has seen OSU's run attack before. Cal is second in the conference in run defense, holding opposing RBs to 3.5 yards per carry and 114 yards per game.
Jacquizz Rodgers is back and while teams have stacked the box to stop him, he has still managed 621 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing this season. He is averaging 103.5 yards per game and is tied for first in the conference in scoring.
Cal is tied for second in the Pac-10 in sacks with 19, with 5.5 of those coming from the D-line. They clutch up on third down, allowing just a 34.3-percent conversion rate, and have recorded 13 TFLs. Aaron Tipoti and Trevor Guyton are expected to return to full duty.
Led by senior center Alex Linnenkohl, the Beavers have a solid line including freshman All-American Michael Philipp. Many feel that the OSU run blocking has suffered this season, however teams have been stacking the box, forcing the Beavers to throw more. Katz has been sacked 14 times this season.
Kevin Riley and Marvin Jones made big strides last week, and if they keep improving on consistency and ball security, all bets are off. If the passing game is to be effective at all, the Bears will need to put the ball in Keenan Allen's hands as often as possible.
The running attack works best when set up by downfield passes to Allen and Jones, which the Bears did effectively against ASU. Shane Vereen is fourth in the league with 103 rushing yards per game and his 721 yards on the season are good for third-most in the Pac-10.
If Dominic Galas and Matt Summers-Gavin are in there, there are running lanes aplenty. Galas has a nasty streak and a wrestling background reminiscent of former Cal luminary and current Cleveland Browns starter Alex Mack. If he gets more snaps than Chris Guarnero, the offense will be in good shape.
Led by All-American Stephen Paea at tackle, offensive lines have had to double-team him to have success. Joining Paea inside is Brennan Olander.the two of them have combined for six sacks on the season. At defensive end the Beavers will rotate four players including starters Gabe Miller and Dominic Glover.
Allen broke out for 100 return yards last week, and could have had 36 more had his 97-yard house call not gotten called back because of a block to the back. He's a huge playmaker and a very dynamic returner. Jeremy Ross is looking far better in punt returns.
Although the Beavers lost Rodgers, they have maintained an excellent return game with Jordan Poyer and Wheaton. OSU averages 26.5 yards per KOR and 16.9 per punt return. Kicker Justin Kahut has been in a slump lately after going 3-of-5 in field goals and missing two extra points in Tucson.
RYAN GORCEY'S PREDICTION
ANGIE MACHADO'S PREDICTION
The Bears are 0-3 on the road this year, but head coach Jeff Tedford is 2-2 at Reser since taking the helm in 2002. If Allen gets the ball early and often, the offense will be able to open things up, backed by the No. 15 overall defense in the country. CAL 28, OSU 24.
The Beavers return home for the first time since Oct. 2. After losing by one in double-OT in Seattle, the bye came at a perfect time. OSU has played the toughest schedule in D1 football and should be prepared for Cal's potent attack. I think the Beaver's defense pressures Riley early and the offense returns to form. OSU 32, CAL 27.