A look back at California and ahead to Saturdays Civil War with Oregon State coach Mike Riley ...
Oregon State had offensive balance in its 62-14 blitzkrieg of Cal season highs in first downs (35) and rushing (200 yards), 359 yards passing, 559 yards total offense and the most points since the 66-13 thrashing of Washington State in 2008.
Rileys biggest complaint and it is a deserved one is that the OSU defense missed a lot of tackles, especially early in the game.
But it was a lot of good football, said Riley, who improved his career coaching record to 80-65 in his dozen years at Oregon State, including 72-51 since returning for his second stint in 2003. The kids had a great week of practice and were ready to play. Thats what I liked about it the most.
Everybody was in attack mode. We didnt play perfectly. We missed some stuff from time to time, but we compensated for it. The focus was good through the game.
The Riley/Jeff Tedford post-game handshake was so quick the Cal coach just kept walking it could have been missed with a blink of the eye. Tedford was surely steaming over his teams performance but also could have been upset with Riley for passing with third-string quarterback Richie Harrington a redshirt freshman seeing his first career action in the waning minutes.
(Remember that Tedford once played quarterback for Riley with the CFL Winnipeg Blue Bombers. And a few years ago after an Oregon State win over Cal in Corvallis, Tedford never came to midfield for the ceremonial handshake with his former coach.)
In that Wazoo blowout four years ago, WSU coach Paul Wulff was unhappy with Riley for having Sean Canfield then backup to Lyle Moevao throw for a touchdown pass late in the game.
Rileys philosophy in such situations, and his explanation of what happened with Harrington against the Bears:
My deal is to let the reserves play a little bit, including the quarterback. We called some three-step drop quick passes. Richie audibled a pass on one play. Since (the Bears) were still blitzing, he checked off and hit a slant route.
At the time, we were playing three true freshmen, a walk-on and a backup center on our offensive line. We had substituted for everybody and they were ganged up there to stop the run. We threw a couple of quick passes. We werent trying to pile on; we were just letting those guys play.
Ive been on the bad end of it in games like that and have never concerned myself with what the opponent does. I always feel like I have plenty to worry about with my own team.
Cal quarterback Allan Bridgford, incidentally, played the entire way. Bridgford is the backup to injured starter Zach Maynard, but Tedford presumably had another QB he could have thrown in there for a few snaps at the end.
Cal amassed 15 penalties for 172 yards, including 12 majors seven for personal fouls or unsportsmanlike conduct. It conjured memories of Dennis Ericksons oft-penalized OSU Fiesta Bowl team of 2000 without the talent that took 18 penalties for 174 yards in the 41-9 whipping of Notre Dame.
Cal fullback Kameron Krebs, who transferred from Oregon State, was flagged for two of the majors. The Bears had a late hit on Oregon States Sean Mannion with the Beavers ahead 48-14 early in the fourth quarter.
It was the look of an undisciplined team that cant help Tedfords hope to retain his job as coach.
Oregon State defensive end Scott Crichton was whistled for a taunting penalty in the first quarter that helped Cal to its first touchdown. It had to be the dumbest penalty of the year for the Beavers well-deserved, too and had Riley screaming at Crichton on the sidelines afterward.
Oregon State (8-2 overall, 6-2 in Pac-12 play) fell one spot to 16th in the Associated Press poll.
Quipped Riley: I guess we didnt win big enough.
The Beavers moved up one spot to 15th in the BCS standings, stayed at 17th in the USA Today poll and moved up to 10th in the Sagarin ratings.
Sophomore fullback Tyler Anderson faces knee surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL and will be lost for the season. OSU coaches hope senior Clayton York who opened the season as a starter before being beaten out by Anderson and was sidelined for the Cal game with a concussion will return for the Civil War.
Redshirt freshman Michael Balfour, the third-stringer, played when the Beavers used a fullback in the second half against the Bears.
The rest of the Oregon State injury picture looks good. Quarterback Cody Vaz, who injured an ankle at Stanford, was suited and cleared by the medical staff for duty on an emergency basis against Cal but didnt play. He should be physically ready for the Oregon game. So, too, should starting guard Grant Enger, who missed the Cal game with an ankle sprain. Guard Josh Andrews, shaken up against the Bears, is fine and receiver Brandin Cooks (concussion) is expected to be ready to go.
Riley said he wont make an announcement until after Mondays practice, but its almost a certainty that Mannion who threw for 325 yards and four touchdowns against Cal will start against the Ducks. Vaz may not be 100 percent physically ready and Mannion deserves to start, anyway.
Sean played a real solid game against Cal, Riley said. He missed some stuff, but he made some terrific throws and had real good command of the game plan. He knew what he was going to do with the ball.
Riley was pleased with the play of Derek Nielsen, a 6-4, 285-pound walk-on sophomore who made his first start at guard in place of Enger.
I really like the way he played, the OSU coach said of Nielsen, who threw the block that sprung Storm Woods for a 38-yard run in the first quarter. Hes real valuable in that he can play every O-line position for us.
The Beavers lose only one senior starter from their offensive line tackle Colin Kelly. Nielsen will be in line to replace him, though OSU coaches like the potential of David Keller, the 6-3, 310-pound transfer from Fresno State who is sitting out this season and will be a redshirt freshman in 2013.
Hes good, Riley said. Hell be in the competition to start next season.
Another name to remember: 6-6, 325-pound true freshman Gavin Andrews, who saw mop-up duty against the Bears.
Riley had kind words for Connor Hamlett, the 6-7, 260-pound sophomore tight end who had six receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown against Cal.
Connor could wind up becoming the best receiving tight end weve ever had here, the OSU coach said. Hes a gifted player. As he gets stronger, hell become a better all-around tight end.
The bowl picture remains jumbled. Oregon State is out of the running for the Rose Bowl and even an upset of the Ducks would probably not mean a BCS bowl for the Beavers. But depending on what happens with Oregon, Stanford and UCLA, the Beavers still are in good position to earn selection for either the Alamo Bowl Dec. 29 at San Antonio or the Holiday Bowl Dec. 27 at San Diego.
Weve been coveting Oregon State for years, Weldon Donaldson, a member of the San Diego bowl selection committee told me before the OSU-Stanford game. To get (the Beavers) would be a feather in our cap.
Representatives of the Alamo Bowl were on hand for Oregon States dismantling of Cal.
Which bowl is Riley hoping for?
I dont really think about it, he says. Im just glad were going to be in one. We want to make it the best one we can get into. In order to do that, we have to keep winning.
Should Oregon State beat Oregon and UCLA win over Stanford, OSU would finish in a three-way tie with the Ducks and Cardinal for the Pac-12 North championship and also a four-way tie with the other three schools for the best conference record at 7-2.
I like that idea, Riley says. It would be fun to be tied for first. Thats what we should go after and hope for.
Stanfords upset of Oregon doesnt give the Beavers added confidence that they could beat the Ducks Saturday at Reser Stadium, Riley says.
It confirms to us that Stanford is a pretty good team, which is what we thought after we played them in a 27-23 loss, Riley says. It goes to show you in our league, you have to be ready to play every game.
We have an opportunity against Oregon like everybody else has. Our kids will get ready to play with confidence. I know they plan on winning the game thats it.
Rileys biggest concern against Oregon is the multi-talented freshman quarterback, Marcus Mariota.
I really like him, Riley says. Hes a fabulous athlete. Hes fast and he runs the offense really well. He snaps his passes and has a great release, and when he decides to pull it down and run, he is really dangerous. Ive been amazed at the speed he has shown once he gets into the open field.
THIS AND THAT: The Dec. 1 game against Nicholls State is on, according to Riley. Its a game on our schedule, the OSU coach says. I havent heard anything otherwise from our administration. We are absolutely planning on it. Nicholls State, an FCS team, is 1-9. The Colonels will have 16 days to prepare after their 35-16 loss to Southeast Louisiana last Thursday. ... Riley said Mondays 11 a.m. practice session will be open to the public and he has no plans as of yet to close practices later in the week. ... despite what has been reported, defensive tackle Saile Hautua of Snow JC in Ephraim, Utah, has not made a verbal commitment to Oregon State.