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Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Sac Bee: Cal report: Bears hunting for fantastic finish
By Ryan Lillis -- Special To The Bee
BERKELEY - Fresh off a bye week that helped heal a few lingering wounds - physical and mental - No. 23 Cal is about to embark upon its toughest stretch of the season. And while some of the more media-savvy residents of Memorial Stadium are throwing around the "one game at a time" line, it's crystal clear to most that the season is about to turn more difficult. “It's kind of like every one of these (next) three games is a bowl," said defensive end Tosh Lupoi. It starts Saturday, when Cal (6-2, 3-2 Pac-10 Conference) heads to Oregon and what is expected to be a wet, loud Autzen Stadium, where the Bears haven't won since 1987. A victory over the No. 15 Ducks (7-1, 4-1) would raise Cal to third in the Pac-10 with a home matchup against top-ranked USC looming Nov. 12. The Bears finish their regular season Nov. 19 at Stanford. "If you're going to set a schedule up, you want the toughest teams at the end when hopefully you're playing your best football," said linebacker Ryan Foltz. The week off gave the Bears time to get as healthy as they've been since the start of the season. Wide receivers DeSean Jackson (shoulder) and Robert Jordan (collarbone) are both expected to play Saturday, as is right tackle Ryan O'Callaghan (concussion). The three sat out Cal's 42-38 victory over WashingtonState on Oct. 22. Jordan and Jackson returned to practice last week, while O'Callaghan is being eased back with low-impact drills this week. "I'm 100 percent now," O'Callaghan said. "They just don't want me doing anything stupid." Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane is healing slowly from an ankle injury and could see more than the limited action he handled against WashingtonState. Besides the time to heal injuries, the week off gave the Cal defense time to stew over the 422 passing yards and five touchdowns it gave up to Washington State quarterback Alex Brink. "I'm sure Oregon will take their shots," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "Our secondary will be anxious to get back on the field." Kellen Clemens, who had started 32 consecutive games at quarterback for the Ducks, will likely miss the rest of the season because of a broken ankle suffered in a 28-21 win over Arizona on Oct. 22. His primary backup, Dennis Dixon, is expected to start Saturday. "He poses a lot of the same issues Kellen would pose," Tedford said. "The difference is there's a huge experience difference."