California (4-4) at Oregon State (4-3) (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Reser Stadium (45,674) -- Corvallis, Oregon. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: Cal 2-2, OSU 2-1. Away Record: Cal 2-1, OSU 2-2. Neutral Record: Cal 0-1, OSU 0-1. Conference Record: Cal 2-4, OSU 1-3. Series Record: California leads, 34-32.
GAME NOTES: The California Golden Bears will try to put an end to a three-game losing streak on Saturday night, as they pay a visit to the Oregon State Beavers.
At 4-4, California has already far exceeded expectations following a 1-11 season in 2013. However, losses to Washington (31-7), UCLA (36-34) and Oregon (59-41) in the last three games have it headed in the wrong direction. This is one of the last road games of the year for the Golden Bears, who have a bye next weekend.
Oregon State fell victim to perhaps the best performance of the season from Stanford last weekend, as it was handed a 38-14 loss on the road. The setback was the third in the last four games for the Beavers, who are 4-3 overall, but just 1-3 in Pac-12 contests.
This is one of the more competitive rivalries in the Pac-12, with California holding a slim, 34-32, advantage in the all-time series. Oregon State closed the gap a bit last season, rolling to a 49-17 victory in Berkeley.
Although it came in a loss, Cal played well offensively against Oregon, finishing with 560 yards, while claiming a 30-27 edge in first downs. Putting up big numbers on offense has become commonplace for the Golden Bears, who are ranked second in the league in scoring (41.5 ppg) and fourth in total offense (504.3 ypg).
Jared Goff turned in his sixth straight 300-yard performance against Oregon, tallying 360 yards as well as two scores on 32-of-52 passing. Goff's second season as the starter has led to plenty of bright moments, as he is completing 64.3 percent of his pass attempts overall for 2,842 yards and 26 touchdowns. On top of the solid production, Goff has done a good job of protecting the football, with only four interceptions.
Even though he still played well, Goff was without a key target against Oregon, as Trevor Davis (21 receptions, 360 yards, four TDs) did not play due to a head injury. Davis is questionable for this weekend. Bryce Treggs (37 receptions, 442 yards, five TDs), Kenny Lawler (29 receptions, 404 yards, six TDs), Chris Harper (28 receptions, 398 yards, four TDs) and Stephen Anderson (25 receptions, 392 yards, three TDS) still give Goff plenty of options.
Somewhat lost in the shuffle of the impressive passing attack has been the solid play of versatile running back Daniel Lasco. Lasco has rushed for 608 yards and seven touchdowns, while maintaining a big role in the passing game as well (26 receptions, 304 yards, two TDs).
Where it has all gone wrong for California is on defense. The Golden Bears are dead last in the Pac-12 in average points allowed (41 ppg) and total defense (533.3 ypg). It doesn't help that they have failed to create many negative plays, with only 11 sacks and 39 tackles for loss.
There is a chance Cal could make some strides on defense this weekend, as it faces an Oregon State squad that hasn't exactly lit the world on fire offensively. The Beavers are last in the Pac-12 in scoring (25.4 ppg) and next-to-last in total offense (368.1 ypg). They have also allowed the second- most sacks of any team in the conference (23).
Sean Mannion has taken the bulk of the sacks, which could explain his rather pedestrian performance this season. Mannion has completed a solid 61.4 percent of his pass attempts, but he has only 1,698 yards and seven touchdowns to show for it. Against Stanford, Mannion connected on only 14-of-30 passes, finishing with a meager 122 yards. He was under constant pressure in the game, taking six sacks.
It wasn't just Mannion who was brought down in the backfield by the Cardinal, with the Beavers finishing with only 12 net rushing yards on 29 carries. Terron Ward was the leading ground gainer, finishing with 34 yards on 13 attempts. Ward is the leading rusher for the team this season (446 yards, six TDs), but the Beavers have lost some depth recently with a knee injury to Storm Woods (388 yards, three TDs). Woods is listed as questionable for this week's game.
The receiving corps is largely in tact, with Victor Bolden (30 receptions, 232 yards, TD) leading the way. Connor Hamlett (22 receptions, 243 yards, TD) is the only other player on the roster with more than 20 receptions. Richard Mullaney (18 receptions, 216 yards, TD) and Hunter Jarmon (14 receptions, 252 yards) each have more than 200 yards as well
While defense is California's weakness, it is Oregon State's strength. Other than Stanford, no team in the Pac-12 is letting up fewer yards per game than the Beavers (344.3 ypg). They are second in the conference in opponent third- down conversion rate (.316) as well, although they are the only team in the league to have less than 100 chances.
These are two very different teams, with Cal being explosive on offense and flat on defense, while Oregon State is the exact opposite. This game will come down to whichever team can control the tempo. If the Beavers can slow things down, they have a chance. However, a shootout favors the Golden Bears.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oregon State 27, California 24Game Date and Time
Saturday, November 1, 10:30 p.m. (ET)