CORVALLIS In this season of struggles for Oregon State, a game against California should be cause for some optimism.
The Beavers have won their previous four games against the Bears, the last three by at least two touchdowns. The run of success includes 10 wins in the past 12 meetings of the teams. OSU hasnt lost a road game to Cal since 1997.
Uh, hold that thought of OSU invincibility against the Bears in the Bay Area, even if Saturdays game is being played at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
Every year is a new year, OSU coach Mike Riley said. I dont think you can put too much stock in the past.
So what explains OSUs run of success against the Bears?
Its just one of those coachs cliches, that whoever plays the best that day wins, Riley said. Weve played well against Cal.
One thing different is the location of Saturdays game, at the facility normally used for baseball by the San Francisco Giants. AT&T Park is the temporary home for the Bears while their on-campus facility undergoes a massive renovation, due to be completed in time for the 2012 season.
The Beavers are at least somewhat familiar with playing at AT&T Park, which was the site of OSUs 21-14 victory over Maryland in the 2007 Emerald Bowl.
Its an exciting place to play, Riley said, though he also remembered it as being a tight fit for a football field. That is especially the case with the end zone that abuts what is the left field fence for baseball.
Riley also said Im a little worried about the grass because I thought it was slippery when OSU played in the bowl game there.
That prompted his decision to practice on Oregon States grass fields on Tuesday, if not the entire week, instead of holding practices in Reser Stadium, which has an artificial turf surface. The Beavers even had a bank of lights brought in to help illuminate the grass fields with an earlier arrival of darkness since the return to standard time.
OSU has played on grass just once this season, at Arizona State. In a late-season game last year at Stanford with damp conditions, Riley said we did not handle the field very well, which also contributed to his decision to be on grass for practices this week.