By Matt Kawahara
After turning in the best individual performance of his collegiate career in Saturday's Big Game win, Cal tailback Jahvid Best was named Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week on Monday. Best rushed for a career-high 201 yards and two touchdowns in the Bears' 37-16 win over Stanford, and also turned in Cal's top receiving numbers with three catches for 35 yards and a score. From the Bears' opening drive, Best seemed to be running with a little extra purpose. On the second play from scrimmage, he caught a screen pass from quarterback Kevin Riley, saw the entire Cardinal defense crashing the left side, and reversed field for a 60-yard gain down the far sideline. "I think he just ran more confident today," Riley said after the game. "He got some things going last week against a good defense (in Oregon State) and he was just running hard, running through people. He knew he wanted to do something today." Best carried 19 times during the game for an average of 10.6 yards. His three-yard touchdown run in the third quarter put Cal up 30-3, and he exploded over left tackle two drives later for a 45-yard scamper that gave the Bears their biggest lead of the game at 34 points.
Often, the sophomore sensation found himself in open space with room to use his breakaway speed. "He got in the open field quite a bit today," coach Jeff Tedford said. "We felt like we needed to get on the perimeter today. (The Cardinal is) really good up front, but we had some things to get him on the perimeter." It was the second time this season that Best has rushed for 200 yards and his second time receiving player of the week honors-both came in Cal's 66-3 win over Washington State in week two. Now with 1,083 rushing yards this season, Best becomes the seventh Bears running back in the last seven years-all under Tedford-to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark. Bears linebacker Zack Follett was nominated for defensive player of the week honors after recording 10 tackles and 2.5 sacks, while punter Bryan Anger-who averaged 60.2 yards over his four punts and nailed three within the Cardinal's 20-yard line-was nominated for special teams.
Bears Dash Stanford Bowl Hopes
The Cardinal came into Saturday's game with an overall record of 5-6 and needing a win to claim bowl eligibility. Instead, Stanford saw its streak of seasons without a bowl game increase to seven, as its last appearance came in 2001 at the Seattle Bowl. After the game, Cal players differed on whether or not ending the Cardinal's season prematurely added to the win over their rival. "It does," Riley said. "It definitely does. I know they were looking forward to that, and they've waited a long time, but it feels good to get our Axe back and they have to keep on waiting." Senior linebacker Worrell Williams agreed, leveraging the disappointment for Stanford's players against the importance of taking back the Axe. "I said that earlier in the week-I want those guys to go to a bowl game," Williams said. "Those guys are good, smart kids. But not at our expense. It just can't happen like that."
Senior Anthony Felder, meanwhile, was reluctant to place any emphasis on keeping the Cardinal out of a bowl. "I guess those guys, none of them have ever played in a bowl," Felder said. "I feel bad for them. Bowl experience is something everyone should get to have." Meanwhile, the Bears kept themselves in position for a return to the Holiday Bowl. If Cal beats Washington on Dec. 6, and Oregon State defeats Oregon in the Civil War this weekend, then the Bears will likely finish third in the Pac-10 behind the Rose Bowl-bound Beavers and BCS at-large USC.