Week 12 – California at Oregon State

Posted Nov 15, 2012

Week 12 Fearless Prediction – California at Oregon State

California (3-8) at Oregon State (7-2) Nov. 17, 10:30, Pac-12 Network

Here's The Deal: Capturing the Pac-12 North can be removed from the Oregon State to-do list. Winning 10 games in 2012, though, remains a goal.

The Beavers squandered a second-half lead at Stanford last week, falling 27-23 to drop into third place in the division. Still, there's plenty left to play for in Corvallis, the site of the team's final three games of the regular season. Oregon State has been one of this year's biggest surprises in the Pac-12, a distinction it doesn't plan to surrender in the final leg of the campaign. It also hopes to use this Saturday as a springboard for next week's Civil War showdown with Oregon.

Cal's season ends this Saturday at Reser Stadium. But will it be the end of the line for 11th-year head coach Jeff Tedford? The perennial hot seat occupant is having his worst year in Berkeley, ratcheting up speculation that he could be replaced shortly by Sandy Barbour. The AD plans to act quickly, and nothing that happens this weekend figures to impact the eventual decision.

Why Cal Might Win: This game is actually a tricky spot for Oregon State—a tough loss to Stanford behind it, and a trip to Eugene lurking in the on-deck circle.

Obviously, the Bears will be playing loosey-goosey, with little pressure at this point. This is a great opportunity for some of the young kids to make an early statement for 2013, regardless of who is on the sidelines. Cal is going to start a lot of underclassmen on both sides of the ball, all of whom will be eager to make a mark. At wide receiver will be big and talented rookies Chris Harper and Darius Powe. And all of the linebackers, Chris McCain, Nick Forbes, Jalen Jefferson and Brennan Scarlett, are upwardly-mobile freshmen and sophomores. A young team with absolutely nothing to lose is a dangerous opponent.

Why Oregon State Might Win: The Beavers haven't lost in Corvallis all year. They don't figure to start against a Cal team with one quality win all season.

Oregon State is simply better than Cal on both sides of the line. The defense, led by DE Scott Crichton, ranks No. 10 nationally against the run, which means moving the ball could fall on the shoulders of backup Bears QB Allan Bridgford. Cal is also 118th in the country in pass protection, so Crichton, Dylan Wynn and the outside linebackers will meet in the backfield regularly. On offense, receivers Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks are just a notch below Marqise Lee and Robert Woods in the Pac-12, a problem for a Bears defensive backfield that was just scorched for seven touchdown passes by Oregon.

What To Watch Out For: Oregon State head coach Mike Riley is still deciding on his starting quarterback between Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz. Mannion began the year at the controls before getting hurt. Vaz played well, keeping Mannion on the bench even when he healed. But now Vaz has a bum ankle that could relegate him to the sidelines this week. The Beavers need to use this week's game as a chance to get a better grip on the quarterback situation before the Ducks invade Reser Stadium a week from now.

What Will Happen: Riley will keep his Beavers focused on one game at a time, avoiding their first losing streak of the season.

Oregon State is just better than Cal in all phases, an edge aided by playing in Corvallis. Whoever gets the nod behind center will liberally get the ball in the hands of Wheaton and Cooks, putting them in position to pick up yards after the catch. A Bears offense missing its best weapons in the passing game will come up short in its attempt to defeat CB Jordan Poyer and the rest of the OSU secondary. While it'll be tempting to look ahead, the Beavers will resist to earn a comfortable win.

CFN Prediction: Oregon State 34 … Cal 14
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Oregon State -17.5 O/U: 55
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) 2