CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Cal has lost its last three against Oregon State, but last year's defeat deserves an asterisk.
It's not because the Beavers didn't deserve to win their 31-14 shellacking of the Bears at Memorial Stadium -- indeed, OSU thoroughly outplayed Cal -- but the end result seemed secondary after what happened in the second quarter.
Cal star tailback Jahvid Best suffered a severe concussion and back injury after a scary fall in the end zone. Best hurdled Oregon State cornerback Tim Clark and then was thrust high into the air after a hit by Beavers safety Cameron Collins.
Best landed hard on his back and head, and the game was delayed for about 15 minutes as he was attended to and eventually taken off on a stretcher. The Bears knew he had movement in his extremities before leaving the field, but it was still a challenge to play on.
"Shane (Vereen) and I were kind of talking about it on the (practice) field, just talking about how that happened and the enthusiasm just dropped in that game," Cal quarterback Kevin Riley said. "When you see your best player go down in that fashion, it's a scary thing."
Best missed the rest of the season but made a full recovery and now is a rookie for the Detroit Lions.
Many players on the field for that play, including Collins, will be participating again when the teams meet today at Reser Stadium.
"That was one of the scariest plays I've been a part of since I started playing football," said Collins, who moved to linebacker this season. "You never want to see anyone get hurt like that, ever."
Best attended Cal's win over Arizona State last weekend because the Lions had a bye week. He visited the team hotel the night before the game and was in the locker room afterward.
"We haven't really talked too much about that play," said Vereen, now the starting tailback. "It's more how (the Beavers) have pretty much handled us the past couple years. I think it's about time we go get some respect and play a good game against them."
RECORDS: Cal 4-3, 2-2 Pac-10; Oregon State 3-3, 2-1
KICKOFF: 12:30 at Reser Stadium, Corvallis, Ore.
TV/RADIO: Fox College Sports Pacific; 810-AM
SERIES HISTORY: Cal leads 33-29, but the Beavers have won three in a row and nine of the past 11.
THE STORY LINES: It's a showdown between two of the Pac-10's top running backs -- Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers and Cal's Shane Vereen. Both are among the conference leaders in rushing. The Bears are looking to win their first road game of the season. They are 0-3 on the road and 4-0 at home. The Beavers are playing their second game without star receiver James Rodgers, who is out for the season with a knee injury.
INJURY UPDATE: Cal -- none. Oregon State -- TE Brady Camp (back) is out. C Alex Linnenkohl (ankle) is probable.
STATS THAT MATTER: Oregon State is ranked 119th in the country out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in total defense (459.2 yards allowed per game). Cal has been outscored 110-54 in three games on the road this season. After leading the Pac-10 in passing offense last season, the Beavers rank just eighth this season (223.7 ypg).
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Cal's interior offensive linemen against OSU defensive tackle Stephen Paea. Paea is one of the most havoc-causing defensive linemen in the country. He's a top NFL prospect who can dominate the line of scrimmage. The Bears' guards and center will have to be at their best to contend with him.
QUOTE OF NOTE: "If we're not prepared to go on the road, we're going to be in trouble because Oregon State is a great team." -- Vereen
-- JONATHAN OKANES