Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Pac-12 [Print without images]

Saturday, November 15, 2008
Beavers defense swarms California

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- A six-point lead is supposed to be a precarious thing, but Oregon State's defense made that margin look and feel like 60 against California.

The Beavers held California to 232 total yards, 65 of which came on one play.

The Beavers sacked Cal quarterback Kevin Riley five times. When they didn't sack him, they made him look like he expected to be hit at any moment. See his numbers: 11 of 25 for 117 yards.

His lone interception was returned 25 yards for a touchdown by Keenan Lewis, which put an exclamation point on the 34-21 victory.

"I think we kind of got in his head a little bit and got him frustrated," Beavers defensive end Slade Norris said.

Cal didn't convert a third down play after halftime and finished 2 of 13.

When the screws tightened in the fourth quarter -- that six point lead hanging there, vulnerable -- the Bears managed to gain just 1 yard on 12 plays.

We could go on.

"When it got to crunch time, we really were relentless defensively," Oregon State coach Mike Riley said.

Said Cal coach Jeff Tedford: "I don't think they did anything scheme-wise. They just played better than we did."

Yep.

The Beavers had 10 tackles for a loss, with nine different players forcing the Bears to go negative.

It's sort of annoying when players and coaches rattle on about a "total-team effort," but it actually describes the performance, though tackle Stephen Pea (six tackles, two for a loss) and end Victor Butler (seven tackles, 1.5 sacks) deserve special note.

"At the end of the game, they looked a little tired and beat down," Butler said of Cal.

A year ago, the Beavers led the nation in rushing defense and ranked fourth in sacks. They ranked eighth overall.

They began the year with an entirely new starting front seven. That's why some silly folks thought the Beavers defense would struggle.

And they mostly did in losses to Stanford and Penn State.

No longer.

The Beavers now rank 17th in the nation in total defense. And rising.