While the surrounding sky started out gray, the clouds opened up and the sun shone down on Memorial Stadium. On Saturday, Oct. 30, the Berkeley hills came alive with the sound of football as Cal battered Oregon State 39-25.
This was expected to be a one-sided battle as the Beavers’ record going into the match was 5-2, an exact opposite of the Bears’ 2-5. With wins against Sac State and Colorado, the candle the blue and gold did hold to OSU was a weak flame, to say the least.
Well, it seems that the spark is back.
If the sprinkle of spectators were any indication, students had lost faith in their beloved Bears. Yet, where the fans lost it, the players found it.
The game started off with a bang as Chase Garbers silenced naysayers once more: The top Cal rushing quarterback in program history scrambled his way into the endzone, awarding the Bears a lead just mere minutes into the match. Combined with an immediate sack for loss against OSU quarterback Nolan Chance, it seemed as if both the defensive and offensive lines were in peak performance.
“There were big plays today, offensively and defensively,” said head coach Justin Wilcox. “We have made some very critical plays. Offensively, this is the best game we have ever played.”
The running game was everything that the few loyal Cal fans thought that it could be: fast and hard on the ground. The Beavers, on the other hand, came into the match favored with up to a seven-point differential. By the second quarter, it was hard to believe that the scoreboard showed 17-3 Cal.
Seen rubbing their eyes at the astonishing sight before them, the crowd cheered as loud as ever as Garbers managed to connect with wide receiver Jeremiah Hunter on multiple awe-inspiring receptions. The Bears were “claws-out” in their attack while the Beavers managed all but a scratch.
Even though OSU’s offense has made waves in the greater Pac-12 sphere, the heavily praised O-line was nowhere to be seen. Cal sophomore cornerback Isaiah Young showed up and showed out with four pass breakups, two of which prevented potential touchdowns for the Beavers.
“Isaiah Young did an excellent job. The past month and a half, he has shown a lot of improvement. He made four big plays in the game. The pass breakup was one of four very big plays,” Wilcox said.
As the second half began with yet another Cal touchdown, heralded by Garbers and completed by Christopher Brooks, it was not unreasonable to assume that the approaching Oct. 31 energy just happened to “Freaky Friday” the offensive linemen of both teams. B.J. Baylor being sixth in the entire nation for average rushing yards per game, as well as Chance inching closer to 200 yards this season, the Beavers were meant to bring it in terms of offense. Instead, it looks like an offense with any substance whatsoever was forgotten.
Something as laymen as a punt was blocked by tight end Nick Alftin in the third quarter. The Bears’ defense did put up a fight, regardless of the 25 points managed by its opponent.
“Defensively, in the first play of the game, that was a momentum builder. It really changed the course of that game,” Wilcox said.
Showing some semblance of the Cal that held the Buffs to a mere three points a week prior, the blue and gold tried their best in getting behind the ball. In doing so, they stifled the Beavers accordingly.
The game came to a harrowing close as Garbers threw a touchdown pass to Brooks; the blue and gold lead against OSU was solidified.
“Chase Garbers was timely and efficient (and) protected the ball very well this year. He is playing very good football,” Wilcox said. “He knows what to do at the right time.”
Technically, no more points were needed. The Bears were safe. However, the Bears decided to add a bit more freaky to this fight: On a two-point conversion for which the Bears converted, Cal suddenly became 3-5 in an unlikely victory to a team as acclaimed as Oregon State.
A win for Cal? Spooky.
Even with it being Halloweekend, and many expecting something “wicked to this way come,” it seems as if the 5-2 Beavers least expected the “something wicked” to be a loss against Cal.