Oregon State is the surprise team of the Pac-12, if not the nation, and Cal gets a first-hand look at the Beavers when the Bears host Oregon State on Saturday at 4 p.m.
As we do every week, we ask a reporter who covers Cal's next opponent five questions abut that team.
So we asked Nick Daschel of the Oregonian five questions about the Beavers, who were picked to finish fifth in the Pac-12 North and have not had a winning season since 2013, but are 5-2 this season and tied for first place in the Pac-12 North with a 3-1 conference mark after beating Utah last week.
Question No. 1: How surprised are you that Oregon State is 5-2 overall and competing for the Pac-12 North title?
"You'd be crazy to say you saw this coming," Daschel said in the video atop this story. "I picked them to be 6-6."
He thought the 45-27 victory over USC on Sept. 25, which was the Beavers first win over the Trojans in Los Angeles since 1960, was the pivotal game, although he acknowledged the win over Utah was the biggest victory.
The Beavers have done it with a running game that leads the Pac-12 and ranks seventh in the country in rushing.
"The running game has been the whole deal for Oregon State," Daschel said.
Question No. 2: Did you know that B.J. Baylor and Chance Nolan would be this productive, and what makes them so good?
"Maybe a little surprised on B.J., but not totally," Daschel said in the video below regarding Baylor, who leads the Pac-12 in rushing. "With Chance, that came out of the blue. He went into camp as the No. 3 quarterback.
"He's right up there with the best quarterbacks in the Pac-12, which we didn't see coming."
Nolan leads the Pac-12 in passer rating.
Question No. 3: What is your assessment of linebacker Avery Roberts, and are there any other players on defense we should know about?
"He's just a machine out there tackling," Daschel said in the video below of Roberts, who leads the Pac-12 in tackles at 11.1 a game.
Daschel mentioned inside linebacker Omar Speights and defensive back Rezjohn Wright as other Oregon State defenders to keep an eye on.
Question No. 4: How much credit does Jonathan Smith deserve for the Beavers’ success?
"Everything," said Daschel in the next video. "Shoot, he took a team that was probably -- if they weren't the worst team in the FBS, they were certainly among the bottom three.
"He's been the guy driving this thing."
Question No. 5: Can the Beavers sustain their success over the second half of the season, considering their final three games are against Stanford, Arizona State and Oregon remaining?
"I think they've got a hot," he said below.
"I couldn't predict they're going to go 5-0 down the stretch, but they're going to be in every one of those games, I think they're going to win at least three of them, maybe four."
Cover photo of Chance Nolan by Soobum Im, USA TODAY Sports
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