Jahvid Best took the direct snap from center, curled around left end and streaked for the goal line. Waiting for him there was Oregon State's Tim Clark, anticipating what was sure to be a glorious collision of chiseled brawn and youthful bravado. It never happened. As he approached Clark, Best bounded into the air like a gazelle. Rather than run through the defender, Best had chosen to leap over him. Maybe to put an exclamation point on an arduous 15-play drive. Maybe to serve as an inspiration for a team that was trailing 14-0 and struggling to do anything well.
Maybe he did it because he could. Regardless, in that moment Best personified all that the Cal football team believed itself to be and hoped for its future. He was unbounded by conventional physics, a dream in flight. It was exhilarating, a stupendous sight. And then it was a horrifying vision. Best was nearing his apex — he wasn't going to clear Clark, but it was going to be close — when the pursuing Cameron Collins placed his hand on Best's hind end and gave him a shove.