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Oregon State vs. Cal preview

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John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

If you want to gauge how Beavers fans are feeling about their team following a 47-6 drubbing at the hands of Colorado, all you need to do is search online for a ticket to Saturday’s home game against California. As of Wednesday night seats could be purchased on StubHub starting at a paltry $6 — a far cry from the $40 they go for through the Oregon State ticket office.

And it’s not exactly as if you can blame them considering Saturday’s matchup between Cal and Oregon State pits two teams against each other who are currently heading in two very different directions. On one side of the field you have a Cal team that sports one of the best and most exciting offenses in the nation and is coming off an impressive upset against previously ranked Utah.

The Golden Bears (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) tout a quarterback in Davis Webb who leads the nation in yards (2,143) and touchdowns (22), and an offense that ranks second in the Pac-12 averaging 548 yards per game. Oregon State (1-3, 0-1 Pac-12), meanwhile, enters with the second-worst offense in the Pac-12, averaging just 22 points and 312 yards per contest.

The Beavers will reportedly stick with junior signal caller Darell Garretson at quarterback — a decision that has been questioned by some considering he’s been erratic in his last couple outings and was replaced in both instances by true freshman Conor Blount. Garretson has struggled to find open receivers amidst constant pressure from opposing defenses, and has had little help from the running game.

But if there’s a silver lining for Oregon State it’s that the play of its secondary has been relatively strong in the first four games of the season. OSU ranks sixth in the Pac-12 in passing defense and has only allowed four scores through the air — a trend that will need to continue if the Beavers hope to earn their first conference win of the season. Cal isn’t exactly the ’85 Chicago Bears, either, allowing 481 yards of offense and a conference-worst 38.6 points per game, leaving the possibility for an upset — even if it’s a seemingly slim chance.

Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen has said throughout the week that he maintains confidence in Garretson and his offense, and believes the unit will receive a boost with the return of left tackle Sean Harlow to the starting lineup. Harlow has been out since suffering a broken leg early in 2015, and was one of OSU’s top offensive linemen a year ago. The news couldn’t have come at a better time, either, as the Beavers have suffered a litany of injuries in recent weeks.

Still, Oregon State allowed 54 points to the Golden Bears in a lopsided loss a year ago and hasn’t looked much better in recent weeks, falling in back-to-back blowouts to Boise State and a team that was the doormat of the Pac-12 as recently as 2014 in Colorado. Granted, last year’s loss to Cal was against a quarterback in Jared Goff who would go on to be selected No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft, but considering his replacement, Webb, is leading the nation in passing, there’s no reason to think this year’s matchup won’t shake out any differently.

It’s college football, and Cal has certainly proven to be inconsistent this season having lost to San Diego State and Arizona State, but barring a miraculous assist — like a an act from God in the form of an Oregon downpour, or drastically improved play from the Oregon State offense — there’s no reason to expect an outcome much different than the past couple weeks. OSU has allowed a total of 1,075 yards in its last two outings and more of the same can be expected against the high-octane Golden Bears Saturday night in Reser Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m.