Winning Trumps a Homecoming for Riley

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Kevin Riley grew up in Beaverton, Ore., about 90 minutes north of the Oregon State campus. Even so, the Cal football team's Saturday showdown against the Beavers won't hold much added significance for the quarterback.

"Early on in my career it felt great going back home and playing ... but now it's just another game and it's a game we need to win," Riley said.

"It's nothing new, really. I had more family at our UW game last year and they traveled to almost every game so it's just another game."

Maybe so, but the fifth-year senior acknowledged that it's been a while since Cal has notched a victory against the Beavers - four years, to be exact. The last time was 2006, when Nate Longshore threw for 341 yards and four touchdowns in Corvallis, Ore., to key a 41-13 blowout.

Although Oregon State (3-3, 2-1 in the Pac-10) spent some time in the AP poll earlier this season, Riley will get to face a defense that is currently ranked, at 119th, second to last in the country.

"I'm not worried about the numbers, really," Beavers safety Lance Mitchell said in a team press conference. "I'm not worried about the numbers. The only statistic that counts is wins and losses."

Helping alleviate any concerns is the presence of defensive tackle Stephen Paea. The 6-foot-1, 311-pound Tonga native was on several preseason All-American lists and is a potential first-rounder in next spring's NFL Draft - an option he surprisingly passed up as a junior.

The Bears' (4-3, 2-2) offensive line can't have a repeat of its last road performance if it hopes to steal one on the road.

"He gave us some fits last year. He beat us up good last year," Riley said. "I know our guards are excited about a little redemption game for them against him."

Odds and Ends

- Oregon State tailback Jacquizz Rodgers isn't where he wants to be right now. His team is floating at .500, for one thing. He's also only on pace for 1,200 yards this season after totaling 1,440 a year ago.

"I got a lot left (in the tank)," he said. "Me, I set a goal for 1,800 and I'm off pace right now, so I'm looking to get back on track."

When asked by a reporter, the 5-foot-7, 191-pound back expressed his desire to be featured more in the passing game as well.

"Oh yeah, I think I'm great at that," Rodgers said. "I can get a chance to get a linebacker one on one and take him deep. I feel like I can beat a linebacker every time."

- Former Bears star Jahvid Best made a cameo at Memorial Stadium during Cal's game against Arizona State. Taking the chance to fly back to the West Coast during the Detroit Lions' bye week, he also spoke with his former teammates before the contest.

"Friday night before the game, he came to the hotel, talked to the running back a little bit," tailback Shane Vereen said. "Words of encouragement, words of things to come."

- Keenan Allen tossed the ball into the air as he crossed the plane on Saturday, celebrating what was an apparent 97-yard kick return. His joy was short-lived, however, as a block in the back penalty shaved 36 yards off of the return.

Coupled with another 39-yard return, the performance was still enough to earn the true freshman honors as Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week.


Jack Wang covers football. Contact him at [email protected]

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