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Cal Routs Oregon State, 49-7; USC Waits in Wings

Lyman scores on the first three passes he catches for the Bears, who will try to prove last year's win over Trojans was no fluke.

October 03, 2004|Chris Dufresne | Times Staff Writer

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Next stop, Los Angeles.

Will it be next stomp?

There were concerns California might look past Oregon State on Saturday toward next week's top-10 showdown against No. 1 USC at the Coliseum.

Instead, Cal ran over, through and around Oregon State, 49-7, before a crowd of 36,003 at Reser Stadium.

The victory improved No. 10 Cal's record to 3-0 and the Golden Bears' national title prospects entering, dare we say, their most important game in modern history.

With No. 6 West Virginia and No. 7 Ohio State losing, Cal will probably move up to at least No. 8 in the Associated Press poll in advance of USC.

"They came to Cal to play at this level," third-year Golden Bear Coach Jeff Tedford said of his players.

The question now is which team should be more worried, Cal or USC?

USC is coming off a shaky, three-point win at Stanford and had a day off to observe the talents of Cal, which was supposed to be rusty after not having played in three weeks; the team's Sept. 16 game at Southern Mississippi was postponed because of Hurricane Ivan.

Instead, the down time allowed Cal to super-size its play book.

The Golden Bears set the tone early when freshman Marshawn Lynch returned the opening kickoff 79 yards, all but gift-wrapping an 11-yard scoring pass from Aaron Rodgers to Chase Lyman.

Oregon State answered with a touchdown on its first possession, and didn't score again.

Cal finished with 433 total yards and averaged 7.6 yards per play.

Lyman finished with five catches for 176 yards, scoring touchdowns on the first three passes he caught.

On the first play of the Golden Bears' second possession, Lyman raced 79 yards for a score after receiving a trick-play pass from tailback Terrell Williams.

Lyman would later score on a 31-yard pass from Rodgers to make it 21-7 in the first quarter.

Cal has now won six straight games for the first time since the 1990-91 seasons.

Saturday's victory ended a five-game losing streak to Oregon State, which fell to 1-4.

"They absolutely beat us in every phase of the game today," Oregon State Coach Mike Riley said.

Lyman maintained that USC was not mentioned afterward in the locker room.

Cal's win starts a week-long media march to next week's game against USC.

Those associated with Cal or USC don't need to be reminded that the Golden Bears dealt the Trojans their only defeat last season, in triple overtime, at Berkeley.

USC rebounded to win a share of the national championship and enter this season as the nation's top-ranked team.

"I don't think anybody on our team is intimidated by that," Cal defensive end Ryan Riddle said.

When asked about the emotions going into the USC game, Riddle said, "They probably had us on their minds more than we had them on our minds over the summer."

That's right, some Cal players think USC might have more incentive.

"Last year we were the only team to beat them, and this year they want to prove it was a fluke," cornerback Tim Mixon said.

It's hard to imagine Cal being more prepared for a seminal event.

The Golden Bears' offense, which leads the nation, appears all but unstoppable.

In its last four games, dating to last year's Insight Bowl victory, Cal has scored 52, 56, 41 and 49 points.

Rodgers, the Golden Bears' junior quarterback, completed 12 of 16 passes for 140 yards and three touchdowns Saturday. He had two interceptions, but neither was consequential.

Rodgers made amends for last year's dismal performance against Oregon State, in which he completed nine of 34 passes for 52 yards.

"It's nice to play better than last year, and be a better leader," he said.

Cal has everything on offense that USC has, a great quarterback, depth at running back and fine receivers.

Lynch, the freshman tailback, is almost a multipurpose clone of USC's Reggie Bush.

Cal's concerns going into USC week figured to come on defense, yet those questions were tempered by the Golden Bears' holding Oregon State to one touchdown and 302 total yards.

Enough about Oregon State, though, it's time to turn internal clocks forward to Trojan standard time.

"You can't help it," Cal's Riddle said of the building excitement. "The bigger the game the more you feel it."

From this end, Cal is definitely feeling it.

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