College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions for Oregon State vs Cal: Betting Guide to Pac-12 Duel

College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions for Oregon State vs Cal: Betting Guide to Pac-12 Duel article feature image

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  • Oregon State travels on the road to face Cal as it attempts to stay atop Pac-12 North.
  • The Golden Bears are coming off their best defensive performance of the season vs. Colorado.
  • Roberto Arguello previews this duel and offers up his best bet.

Oregon State vs. Cal Odds

Saturday, Oct. 30
7 p.m. ET
Pac-12 Network
Oregon State Odds
-110o / -110u
Cal Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

The Oregon State Beavers travel to Berkeley to face the California Golden Bears on Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET.

The Beavers have been one of the pleasant surprises of the Pac-12 this season as they are 5-2 on the year after picking up a huge 42-34 win over Utah last week to remain tied with Oregon for first place in the Pac-12 North.

Since Oregon State inserted quarterback Chance Nolan as the starter in Week 2, it's won five of its six games.

The Golden Bears finally got their first win over an FBS team last week as they dominated Colorado 26-3 in Berkeley. The Bears were previously 0-5 against FBS teams, with four of those five losses within one score.

Oregon State has won each of the last two matchups in this rivalry by four points, but can it make it a third straight win as it fights for the Pac-12 North crown? Or have the Bears turned a corner after last week as they win a second straight game at home?

Let’s break it down below.

Oregon State Beavers

Oregon State Offense

The Beavers have exceeded expectations this season because of their dominant running game.

They rank second in the nation in Line Yards and fifth in Rush Success Rate. This has translated well in the red zone, as they rank fourth in Finishing Drives. It also keeps them consistently ahead of the chains, as they rank 12th in Havoc Allowed.

The running game has clearly picked up where it left off after Jermar Jefferson left for the NFL.

Oregon State has one of the best rushing attacks in CFB.
Puts on the tape
Yep, checks out.

— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) October 27, 2021

The Oregon State offense has risen to another level since Nolan took a big leap from last season as a freshman to this year as a sophomore.

Last year, Nolan wasn’t ready as a passer, but this year, he is clearly more comfortable in the passing game while still posing a threat to run the ball with his long strides at six-foot-three. While the Beavers rank just 87th in pass blocking, they rank slightly better at 59th in Pass Success Rate.

Nolan started the season on fire, as he had four straight games with elite QBRs of 88 or higher. However, he had two consecutive subpar games in the close win over Washington and the loss to Washington State. He bounced back with another strong performance in the win over Utah last week and was a big reason why the Beavers eliminated a 10-point halftime deficit.

If Nolan has another quality performance, the Beavers could blow out the Bears with big play-action plays through the air to complement the running game.

Expect the Beavers to have success on the ground early and often against a Cal defense that ranks 95th in Line Yards, 83rd in Rush Success Rate, and 113rd in PFF Tackling.

Oregon State Defense

If the Beavers win and cover, they need their defense to step up against the run and force Chase Garbers to beat them through the air.

This is a matchup of elite offensive lines, as the Bears rank second nationally in Line Yards and 34th in Rush Success Rate. The Beavers rank a middling 61st Line Yards and a poor 103rd in Rush Success Rate Allowed.

The Cal offense is at its best when running backs Damien Moore and Christopher Brooks can keep it ahead of the chains and set up third-and-short (or avoid third down altogether).

The Bears rank just 82nd in Pass Success Rate, and they won’t win this game if Garbers has to win with his arm by picking up third-down conversions. The Beavers defense has been opportunistic this season as they rank 21st in Havoc created, and their defense has been a respectable 49th in Pass Success Rate allowed.

The Beavers will be without safety Alton Julian for the rest of the season due to a knee injury. This absence is even more significant because defensive back Jaydon Grant will miss the first half because of a targeting penalty in the second half of last week’s Utah game.

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California Golden Bears

Cal Offense

If Cal covers or pulls the upset outright, it will need to run the football and stick with the running game. As mentioned, the Bears lead the FBS in Line Yards, and they should have an edge on the ground against the Beavers defense.

While the Bears have been able to run the ball against most teams this season, there have been several games where they questionably abandoned the run (like when they took a 14-point first-quarter lead against Nevada).

They need to stick with the running game to make life easier on Garbers, and if Garbers can hurt the Beavers with his legs, that will be a needed dimension to keep the pressure off of their passing game that has been mediocre at best.

Garbers rushed for a career-high 86 yards last week against Colorado as he became the Cal career leader in rushing yards by a quarterback with 1,025 yards (passing Joe Kapps who had 931 rushing yards).

Cal Defense

The Cal defense obviously needs to stop the Oregon State running game to stay competitive or win.

The best way for them to win this game is to limit big plays, as they have done for most of the season. The Bears rank 24th in big plays allowed, 45th in Havoc created, and 30th in Finishing Drives. This creates an interesting strength-on-strength matchup with the Beavers as they rank among the top 19 in each of big plays, Havoc Allowed, and Finishing Drives.

Safety Elijah Hicks had a big game last week with six tackles, a sack, an interception, and 2.5 tackles for loss against Colorado’s abomination of an offense, and he will need to be productive to stop Oregon State’s rushing attack this week.

He will play a critical role with the Bears trotting out inexperienced middle linebackers in front of him up the middle.

Oregon State vs. Cal Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Oregon State and Cal match up statistically:

Oregon State Offense vs. Cal Defense
Rush Success583
Line Yards295
Pass Success5961
Pass Blocking**8766
Big Play1924
Finishing Drives430
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Cal Offense vs. Oregon State Defense
Rush Success34103
Line Yards161
Pass Success8249
Pass Blocking**6091
Big Play5381
Finishing Drives7263
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling117113
Middle 83599
SP+ Special Teams2835
Plays per Minute9790
Rush Rate63.1% (14)48.8% (109)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.

Oregon State vs. Cal Betting Pick

With a win, the Beavers will clinch bowl eligibility for the first time since 2013. Expect the Beavers and their dominant rushing attack to do just that while the Cal offense fails to keep up.

While I don’t like betting short road favorites in the Pac-12, I love Oregon State here because of their running game and also Cal’s inability to close games. Both teams rank among the top two in Line Yards, but the Beavers run the ball 63.1% of the time (14th nationally), the Bears run the ball just 48.8% of the time (109th nationally).

Oregon State is simply the better team, and their running game will travel. The Bears have been competitive consistently in their losses this season, but outside of Oregon (and possibly including them), this is by far the best team that the Bears have seen.

This is undoubtedly the best rushing attack the Bears have faced, and the three-headed monster of Baylor, Deshaun Fenwick, and Trey Lowe will lead the Beavers to bowl eligibility as they win and cover.

Expect the Beavers to win and cover, and bet them down to -3.

Pick: Oregon State -1.5 (Play to -3)

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