Cal Football: First Look at Oregon State

Jermar Jefferson rushed for 1,380 yards as a freshman last season but has been hampered by injury.Photo by Jaime Valdez, USA Today
Jeff Faraudo

Here is the early report on what you need to know about the Oregon State Beavers:

KICKOFF: 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium, Berkeley

TV: Pac-12 Networks

WEATHER FORECAST: Expected to be partly cloudy with an afternoon high of 68 degrees next Saturday at Berkeley.

OREGON STATE 2019 RECORD: 2-4 overall, 1-2 in the Pac-12

LAST GAME: The Beavers lost 52-7 vs. Utah on Saturday. Oregon State trailed 52-0 before reserve quarterback Tristan Gebbia threw a 15-yard touchdown to Calvin Tyler. The Beavers were held to 13 net rushing yards by Utah’s ferocious defense, and punted seven times. Jake Luton, coming off a five-touchdown performance against UCLA, was held to 131 passing yards without a touchdown and threw his first interception of the season.

THE SERIES: Cal leads 37-33 and has won the past two matchups, including 49-7 last season in Berkeley. The Beavers have won seven of the past 12 meetings.

OREGON STATE COACH: Former Beavers star quarterback Jonathan Smith, 40, was named head coach before last season and brings a 4-14 record to Berkeley. OSU was 2-10 in his debut season, which came the year after the Beavers were 1-11. Prior to becoming head coach at his alma mater, Smith was co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Washington from 2014-17. He also has served as quarterbacks coach at Boise State, Montana and Idaho. Smith got his first coaching experience as a grad assistant at OSU in 2002 and ’03. A native of Pasadena, he was a walk-on at Oregon State in 1998 and became a four-year starter who passed for 9,680 career yards. Playing for Dennis Erickson, he quarterbacked the Beavers to an 11-1 record, a share of their first conference title in 36 seasons and Fiesta Bowl victory in 2000, the greatest season in school history.

Click here for a video of Smith's Monday press conference.

OREGON STATE STORYLINES: Picked last, one spot behind Cal, in the preseason Pac-12 North poll, the Beavers have struggled with injuries and consistency. Their only win, besides a non-conference victory over FCS opponent Cal Poly, was a 48-31 road win over struggling UCLA. OSU has lost to Oklahoma State, Hawaii, Stanford and Utah. The Beavers have played all season without WR Trevon Bradford (back injury), who caught 56 passes a year ago. Running back Jermar Jefferson (in the photo above), who rushed for 1,380 yards as a freshman last season, had 183 yards against Hawaii last month but has been limited by injury and did not play last week against Utah. His status for Cal is unknown. Three defensive players have been sidelined by injury for the season, and the Beavers have suffered for it. They rank 11th in the Pac-12 in scoring defense (34.0 points) and last in rush defense (205.7 yards). The OSU defense has just two interceptions.

OREGON STATE’S BEST PLAYER, PART I: Jake Luton, a 6-foot-7, 229-pound native of Marysville, Washington, has blossomed in his sixth season of college eligibility. He began his career at Idaho, spent a season at Ventura JC and had his 2017 debut season at OSU cut short by injury. He threw three touchdowns against Oklahoma State, four vs. Cal Poly, passed for 337 yards in the loss to Stanford, and threw five TDs and ran for one vs. UCLA. His 14 touchdowns are third-most in the Pac-12.

OREGON STATE'S BEST PLAYER, PART II: Junior wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins leads the Pac-12 in receptions (51), receiving yards (709), receiving yards per game (118.2) and touchdown receptions (9). He has caught at least 7 passes in every game this season, and had 10 each vs. Stanford and UCLA. Eighty-seven of his past 110 receptions have gone for either first downs or touchdowns. Has good size at 6-foot-4, 209 pounds and will be a good test for Cal's secondary.

BETTING LINE: Cal opened as a 9 1/2-point favorite, according to VegasInsider.com.

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