Why Cal will beat Oregon State

And why you can thank Wednesday's protesters for the victory

Sean Goebel/File

It all makes sense now.

I finally figured out why Cal linebacker Chris McCain, visibly and vocally present at Wednesday night’s protest, was so passionate. Sure, maybe it had a little to do with trigger cuts or the whole 99 percent thing.

But maybe it was about something more, something greater — football.

The Cal football team, set to play Oregon State on Saturday afternoon, has not beaten the Beavers since 2006. But based on Wednesday night’s showing, the Bears are almost assured of a victory.

There is a very clear correlation in recent history between protests and riots at Cal and major sporting events. It’s a theory often thrown around in newsrooms throughout the Bay Area. When the Cal student body takes care of business on Sproul, the Cal sports teams do so on the field.

Take 2009, for instance. Nov. 20: 40 people occupy Wheeler Hall for more than 12 hours protesting a 32 percent free increase. 3,000 people surrounded the building until the people inside were let go. Guess what happened the next day? The Bears upset Stanford in the Big Game.

Then there’s spring 2010. Feb. 26: more than 200 people rioted on Southside, shattering windows and lighting trash cans on fire, in order to raise support for a statewide protest the following week. You know what happened on Feb. 27? The Cal men’s basketball team clinched its first conference title in 50 years.

On the flip side, you have Big Game 2010. The day week before the Cardinal embarrassed the Bears with a 34-point squashing at Memorial Stadium, there was a lackluster turnout — sort of like the football team’s effort — at a campus demonstration protesting an 8 percent fee increase.

So based on history, Cal will beat Oregon State on Saturday. You may say that the Bears would have beaten the Beavers anyway. But the protest surely will push Cal over the top.

If the protest and congregation in front of Sproul Hall goes into next week, maybe that will give the Bears a chance in this year’s Big Game.

As it stands now, though, a Big Game win for Cal is about as likely as the state fully funding the University of California the way it once did.