Pac-10 Week 9 Notes and Observations: Cal Bears

By Dave Consolazio, November 4, 2009 7:50 am

Cal Bears 6-2 Overall (3-2 Conference)

This Week’s Score: Cal 23 – Arizona State 21

Next Week’s Opponent: Oregon State

It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win.

The game in Tempe started off beautifully for the Bears as they jumped out to an early 14-0 lead; but then ASU found a groove, and Cal

wouldn’t score another touchdown from that point forward. They did enough to keep the game close though, and Kevin Riley had a very strong game.

Riley by the numbers was great, going 27/44 for 351 yards and two touchdowns; but what was even more impressive than the numbers was his leadership late in the game. With 10:21 to go in the fourth quarter, Riley led a nine-play 47-yard drive to get the team into field goal range for the chance at the lead, but Giorgio Tavecchio missed the 39-yard try.

Riley was visibly disappointed, but when he got a second chance, he made the most of it. Starting from their own 19 with 3:16 left, Cal marched 74 yards on 11 plays, eating up most of the clock en route to the game-winning field goal. It was nice to see Riley take the team on his shoulders not once, but twice.

Jahvid Best had a fairly pedestrian effort on the ground, averaging only 3.5 yards a carry on 18 carries, but made up for it with a nice day in the receiving game with seven catches for 61 yards and a touchdown.

Maybe I’m being too critical of Best, but since Pac-10 play has started he has had three lackluster rushing efforts (Oregon, USC, ASU), and other than the 93-yard play against UCLA, that wasn’t a great day on the ground, either. He’s still a dynamic playmaker and an excellent weapon, but for a guy that came into the season as arguably the best RB in college football… I don’t know, something is lacking.

For Cal to keep their hopes of a 10-win season alive, they’ll have to get through three straight very difficult opponents; Oregon State, Arizona, and @Stanford. If Riley can build off of this effort and finish the season strong, 10 wins and a top-15 ranking are still very realistic possibilities for the Bears.

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