Two of the most dynamic running backs in the nation face off Saturday when the Oregon State football team plays California in a Pacific-10 Conference game. OSU's Jacquizz Rodgers and Cal's Jahvid Best were the top two ball carriers in the Pac-10 last season and they've kept up similar paces this season.
Both are of vital importance in the success of their teams. When they are playing well everything goes smoothly. "If we win, many times our running back does pretty well," coach Mike Riley said. "That's our identity." Best and Rodgers will never be on the field at the same time, but this is a rivalry of who can out-do who.
Winning the game is the most important aspect, but comparing them makes for interesting fodder going into the showdown. "It's like a competition," Rodgers said. "You have to go out and compete and do the best you can. I just do it for my team and to win the game." Best won the Pac-10 rushing title last season when Rodgers missed the last six quarters of the regular season with a shoulder injury. Best gained 1,580 yards with an 8.1-yard average per carry and scored 15 touchdowns.
However, Rodgers had done enough to be voted by the coaches the conference offensive player of the year. He gained 1,243 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. "They are both in their own way tremendous players," Riley said. "That's the unique thing about great backs. They have ability, and have a knack for seeing."