The Cal football team said all week they expected a show from Oregon State’s Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks, a combo that has been combining for over 150 yards a game this year.
The duo did not disappoint.
Mannion and Cooks led the Beavers (6-1, 4-0 in the Pac-12) to a 49-17 win over the Bears Saturday night at Memorial Stadium. Mannion orchestrated an efficient Beaver attack, throwing for 481 yards and four scores. He connected with his favorite target Cooks 13 times, racking up 232 yards.
“He made a lot of competitive plays on the football,” head coach Sonny Dykes said. “That’s what good players do. He did it over and over and over again.”
With eight minutes left in the first quarter, Cooks easily burned a handful of Cal defenders on a deep post, snagging a 51-yard dart from Mannion. Six plays later, he burned Kameron Jackson on an out at the goaline, setting up a 1-yard touchdown run from Terron Ward.
Meanwhile, Cal (1-6, 0-4) continued to struggle with providing a clean pocket for freshman quarterback Jared Goff, who spent most of Saturday evening under duress despite consistently facing three and four-men rushes.
“I didn’t feel like we played very well up front,” Dykes said. “That’s been an issue for us most of the year.”
After throwing a pick on the previous series, Goff fumbled to set the Beavers up on Cal’s 15. Mannion would then find a wide open Caleb Smith down the seam to give his squad an early 14-3 lead.
“I’m extremely upset with myself, and I need to play better to give us a chance to win,” Goff said.
And while the Bears offense would continue to struggle finding any rhythm and finishing drives, Cooks continued to prove unguardable, adding a 13-yard touchdown scamper and a 34-yard touchdown reception before the half was done. He would enter the locker room with nine catches for 197 yards.
The Cal secondary would continue to lack an answer for the Beavers’ passing game, as Oregon State would open the second half with an eight-play drive culminating in a 28-yard touchdown via Storm Woods off a screen, putting the game out of reach at 35-3.
“They did everything we expected, we just couldn’t execute as a unit,” cornerback Kameron Jackson said.
Goff would then fumble on first snap of the ensuing possession, prompting Dykes to send in quarterback Zach Kline. The redshirt freshman then sustained a fifteen-play drive, finding Darren Ervin for a 7-yard touchdown — the first of the night for the Bears — with just over four minutes to play in the third quarter.
“The ball just came out of Jared’s hand, and we felt like we just had to make the switch,” Dykes said. “(Kline) gave us a little spark of energy and moving forward we’ll talk about it and see where we’ll go from here.”
But the Beavers would take just over two minutes to retort, as Mannion found another gaping hope in the Cal defense, throwing a 15-yard strike to Richard Mullaney for his fourth score of the night.
And finally, Ward would punch in a 1-yard score on fourth down, putting Cal out of its collective misery.
“Not a good night tonight,” Dykes said. “Didn’t play well, didn’t coach well. I’d like to be able to say something other than what actually happened, but that’s what happened.”