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Recap: The Beavers limited their turnovers -- only two this time -- and got an overwhelming first-half offensive performance to beat Arizona 31-16 and snap a two-game Pac-10 losing streak. OSU jumped ahead 24-3 after the first quarter and led 31-10 at halftime. The OSU defense pressured Wildcats' quarterback Willie Tuitama all day, sacking him eight times. In the here-we-go-again dept., the Beavers' offense disappeared in the second half, gaining only 44 net yards. Fast starts and poor finishes have tortured coach Mike Riley's team all season. "I just wish we'd start the second half like we start the first half," Riley said. "Offensively, we're just scratching the surface. We lose (momentum), or whatever it is, and it just ticks me off."
Bear down, OSU: Riley shouldn't have any trouble getting his players ready for California, which jumped to No. 2 in the Associated Press poll Sunday and might have been No. 1 if LSU's Jacob Hester hadn't scored in the last minute to beat Florida. . . . the Bears got four touchdown passes from quarterback Nate Longshore and mauled the Beavers 41-13 last Sept. 30 at Reser Stadium. However, OSU has won six of its last eight games against the Bears, who haven't beaten OSU in Berkeley since the 1997 season. . . . Cal (5-0, 2-0) is trying to go 6-0 for the first time since 1950. Cal has won 21 of its last 23 at home, including 10 in a row.
Beavers vs. No. 2: OSU has faced No. 2-ranked teams nine times, and has a 2-6-1 record. OSU's wins vs. second-ranked teams include a 20-16 victory over No. 2 Duke in the 1941 Rose Bowl, and a 22-14 win over No. 2 Purdue in 1967, the year Dee Andros' Giant Killers also played then-No. 2 UCLA to a 16-16 tie.
The body count: Starting left cornerback Keenan Lewis -- perhaps the team's best one-on-one pass defender -- went down in the second half vs. Arizona with a knee strain. The Beavers could be without five starters against Cal if former punter Kyle Loomis is counted. Loomis quit the team during fall camp. The list of injured players includes pre-season All-America left guard Jeremy Perry (lower leg), No. 1 wide receiver/punt returner Sammie Stroughter (bruised kidney) and safety Daniel Drayton (groin pull). Riley said Sunday that Stroughter won't play against Cal, that Lewis is probably out for two or three weeks and that Drayton is questionable. . . . Riley said it is possible that Perry and Lewis will be back for the Oct. 27 game with Stanford.
Just keep grinding: Several OSU players used that phrase to describe their approach to the rest of the season. The Beavers faced a must-win game Saturday against Arizona, and Riley was thrilled at the result. "I was impressed, because we took the game to Arizona right from the start," he said. "As far as one half, it was our best half of football in a long, long time. Even going back to last year."
Riley on facing Cal: "It's a great opportunity, but we know how hard it's going to be. . . . We're going down there expecting to win. They are a very talented, well-coached football team and we're going to have to play our very best game."
The numbers game: OSU still leads the nation in turnovers, 23, and quarterback Sean Canfield has thrown more interceptions, 13, than any Football Bowl Subdivision quarterback. But Riley saw some progress in his starting quarterback in the Arizona game, despite two interceptions. "Overall for Sean, I think it was a step forward," Riley said. "He made some good plays." . . . Riley said Canfield didn't react negatively when he was briefly benched in the second half. "Sean is really pretty realistic," Riley said. "He handles things, I think, very, very well. . . . In that regard, he's easy to coach. He gets it when you tell him something, which I appreciate. A lot of guys get in a defensive mode, and he does not do that."