BERKELEY, Calif. -- The way this game turned out, California might have been better off if it never had the ball on offense.
The Golden Bears scored a pair of touchdowns on special teams and also returned an interception for a score before losing star running back Jahvid Best to a dislocated left elbow in a 42-7 victory over Colorado State on Saturday.
The good news from bouncing back from a loss at Maryland was overshadowed by the injury to Best, who hurt his elbow as he tried to cushion his fall to the turf in the third quarter with his team up 28-0.
Coach Jeff Tedford said X-rays showed no broken bones but Best would need to undergo an MRI on Sunday before the team knew the extent of the injury. Best, who entered the game leading the Pac-10 in rushing, finished with 85 yards on 11 carries.
"We don't have those answers right now. I don't think we'll know anything until after we get the MRI to see if there's any soft tissue damage or what have you there," Tedford said. "The good news is there's no fracture. That's as positive as a dislocated elbow could be I guess."
Bryant Nnabuife scored on a blocked punt return, Brett Johnson returned an interception for a touchdown and Syd'Quan Thompson returned a punt 73 yards for another score.
That helped Cal overcome a spotty performance by Kevin Riley that has opened up the quarterback competition once again.
"It's not just about the offense scoring points," Thompson said. "We should be able to score points in all three phases of the game. It really helps us out and takes pressure off the offense when we score on defense and special teams."
The victory by the Golden Bears (3-1) salvaged a little bit of respect for the Pac-10 against the Mountain West. The tradition-rich Pac-10 had lost the first five meetings this season against the non-BCS Mountain West, taking a big hit in its perception nationally.
Riley went 6-for-13 for 59 yards and a touchdown before being replaced in the third quarter by Nate Longshore. Riley completed only three passes to wide receivers, although Sean Young did drop a potential long touchdown pass late in the first half.
Longshore came in and threw two TD passes in the fourth quarter after the game had been decided and could get a chance to win back the job he held for most of last season. Tedford said he would evaluate the quarterback situation this week.
"The offense didn't play very well," Tedford said. "I thought we ran the ball pretty well. We were having pretty good success on first down most of the time but weren't very sharp in the passing game."
The big plays in this game for Cal came on defense and special teams. The Bears lost two early fumbles by Best and Shane Verren, but capitalized on the other facets of the game to dominate the Rams (2-2).
Midway through the first quarter, Anthony Hartz went back to punt and Mychal Kendricks bowled into blocker Jeff Horineck to block the kick. Nnabuife scooped it up and went 30 yards for the score that made it 7-0 with 4:45 left in the first quarter.
Two plays later, Worrell Williams hit Billy Farris as he was throwing the ball. Johnson intercepted the wobbly pass and ran it back 43 yards for another score.
The Bears offense finally got into the act late in the half when Riley hit Nyan Boateng on an 11-yard score with 1:11 to play following a questionable pass interference call on Nick Oppenneer.
After Colorado State was stopped on the opening possession of the second half, Thompson fielded the punt on a bounce at the 27. He spun out of a tackle attempt by John Clark and ran up the sideline before cutting it back to the middle and coasting in for the 73-yard score that made it 28-0.
"We obviously didn't cover kicks as well as we needed to," Colorado State coach Steve Fairchild said. "It was like a Barnum and Bailey circus out there at times. It's my fault. I didn't have our guys ready to play."
Cal intercepted two more passes in the second half, including one by defensive lineman Cameron Jordan on a halfback option pass by Kyle Bell.
Farris went 12-for-25 for 96 yards and two interceptions. Klay Kubiak, the son of Houston Texans coach and former NFL quarterback Gary Kubiak, came in late and completed his first collegiate pass for 63 yards to Rashaun Greer and led the Rams to their only score.
John Mosure's 1-yard run with 5:14 to play helped Colorado State avoid its first shutout in two years.
"We were absolutely stinking up the joint offensively," Fairchild said. "They're good defensively, especially their front seven. But I will take a little bit of the credit in making their defense look good. I was awful in getting our team ready."