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It's been an up and down season for the California Golden Bears, as they are 4-0 at home in Memorial Stadium but 0-3 on the road. The trek to Corvallis to see the Golden Bears take on Oregon State at Reser Stadium on Saturday would either continue the trend of bad road performances or jump-start a positive second half of this season.
Tailgating in Berkeley is comprised of bouncing between The Bears Lair, Henry's, and grabbing some grub at a fraternity BBQ on your way up to the stadium. Being in Corvallis for the first time, I was ready to get a taste of the Beavers' pre-game festivities. Despite the weather (cold and gray), I saw plenty of OSU orange and black that made me feel out of place in my Blue and Gold. Undeterred, my friend and I started walking around the stadium and passing by several tailgaters with great RV setups.
These Beaver fans know how to grill up some pre-game food. The 12:30 PM PST kickoff doesn't give the crowd a ton of time, but we enjoyed some excellent burgers and hot links while debating whether or not Kevin Riley was going to play like a 5th year senior or like a freshman and fall apart on the road. Riley is originally from Oregon so Beaver fans are well aware of his past (and infamous first start against OSU) so it made for good conversation. With a capacity of 45,000, Reser Stadium isn't the largest or loudest college venue, but it was filled with orange and black. Golden Bears fans were comforted by the presence of Oski and the Cal Band as we looked for our first victory on the road this season.
Well, all that pre-game talk about Kevin Riley really was for naught as he exited the game after the second series. Riley was hit near his knees after a 32 yard completion to #1 Marvin Jones and lay in agony for about 5 minutes while the training team worked on his knee. After he was carted off the field, all expectations about this game were thrown out the window (it was later reported that he had a torn MCL, effectively ending his Cal career). Riley was replaced by #10 Brock Mansion, which by the way, is an awesome name for a QB. I mean seriously, what's more manly than being named Brock and being a QB?! Anyway, Riley was a 3 year starter and never missed a game, so having a new guy under center looked weird.
Riley or no Riley, the Bears got steamrolled as they trailed 28-0 in the first half and went on to lose 35-7. Jacquizz Rodgers ran all over the Bears porous defense, racking up 119 yards and 3 TD's on the ground, while passing for another TD while running the wildcat. Mansion managed to lead one scoring drive but Shane Vereen shouldered the load carrying 12 times for 53 yards. Reser Stadium was filled with a lot of happy Beavers fans, but unfortunately our road-trip up north did not go exactly as planned.