Cal, Oregon State try to kick start season
California gets a second chance to make a real first impression Saturday afternoon when the Bears visit Oregon State in a battle of winless Pac-12 Conference football teams.
While the Beavers (0-2) opened the 2020 campaign with competitive losses to Washington State and Washington, Cal (0-1) had its first two scheduled contests canceled due to COVID-19 concerns before getting slotted into an 11th-hour matchup with UCLA last week.
The Bears indeed played like a team that had little time to prepare for a Bruins squad that already had a game under its belt. Cal offered UCLA’s dual-threat quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson little resistance in a 34-10 thumping in Pasadena, Calif.
Cal should have ample opportunity to study up on Oregon State, which could well be at a disadvantage of having just one opponent game film to review while the Bears have two.
Cal coach Justin Wilcox was quick to point out that the hastily scheduled opener wasn’t an accurate gauge for where his team is headed this season, and his players are anxious to show it. What’s more, they want to make up for last year’s 21-17 home loss to the Beavers.
“I know our guys can play better, I know we can coach better and we’ll look forward to improving this week,” Wilcox insisted. “I believe in our team and I know we’re going to get better. I think all those guys are disappointed and I know I am that we didn’t perform as well as we thought we could. We have to look forward to getting better this week.”
Quarterback Chase Garbers threw for just 122 yards and running back Christopher Brown Jr. was limited to 25 rushing yards in the loss at UCLA.
Cal isn’t the only team wishing last week’s game never occurred. Oregon State, which had opened with an impressive offensive performance in its opener against Washington State (451 yards of total offense), was unable to replicate that effort when it lost at Washington on Saturday 27-21.
Tristan Gebbia went from passing for 329 yards against WSU, to completing just 11 of 24 against the Huskies for just 85 yards, with an interception and two fumbles. The Beavers totaled only 252 yards, with running back Jermar Jefferson accounting for 133 on the ground.
Jefferson, who sat out last year’s win at Cal with an ankle injury, has topped 100 yards in both of Oregon State’s games this season. His 253 rushing yards rank second in the Pac-12 to Colorado’s Jarek Broussard (308) through two weeks.
Gebbia, according to his coach, was anxious to get back on the field this week.
“The guy is competitive and (the bad day) means a bunch to him,” Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith said. “He’s back to work. He understands football. I think he relishes the opportunity to get back in the ring and keep swinging.”
History indicates at least one team will walk away from Saturday’s game satisfied with its offensive performance. The winning team has averaged 50.8 points the last four times Cal has visited Oregon State, with the clubs having split those contests.
–Field Level Media