NCAA Football

Oregon State hopes to improve bowl position against Cal | AP sports

California (3-6, 1-5 Pac-12) at Oregon State (6-3, 3-3), Saturday, 9pm EST (Pac-12 Network).

Line: Oregon State by 13 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: California leads 39-35

WHAT IS AT STAKE?

The Beavers are eligible for the bowl for the second season in a row, so they will be playing for position. Oregon State briefly appeared in the rankings last week at No. 24 after a bye, but dropped after losing to Washington 24-21 last Saturday. Cal struggled on the road against USC’s No. 8 last weekend with three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but ended up losing 41-35. California have won three of their last five games against Oregon State, including last year’s 39-25 victory. But Oregon State have won nine of their last 10 games at Reser Stadium.

KEY COMBINATION

Oregon State’s passing defense was tested against Michael Penix Jr. from Washington and it will be again by Cal QB Jack Plummer, who threw for 406 yards and three touchdowns last week against USC. He is the first Golden Bears QB to throw for 400 in a game since Davis Webb had 425 yards in 2016 against Washington State. The Beavers rank fourth in the Pac-12 for yards allowed with an average of 238.1 per game. And Oregon has 11 interceptions, second in the conference.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

California: WR J. Michael Sturdivant has 51 receptions and six touchdowns to lead the rookies in the country. He averages 63.3 yards per game to rank fourth nationally among rookies. Overall, he is averaging 11.2 yards per catch.

Oregon State: The Beavers also have a rookie to watch. Running back Damian Martinez has rushed for 100 or more yards in his last three games, including 107 last week against Washington in his first starter. He is the first Oregon State rookie to have three 100-plus rushing games since Jacquizz Rogers in 2008.

FACTS AND NUMBERS

Oregon has 23 race scores this season, tied for 17th at the national level. … The Beavers have only allowed 297 total yards in their last three games — against Stanford, Colorado and Washington. They rank 24th in the country in running defense. … Oregon State QB Ben Gulbranson made his fourth straight game last weekend against Washington and completed 12 of 19 passes for just 87 yards.


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