Oct. 30, 2000
CORVALLIS - The Oregon State Beavers look to continue their best season in over 30 yearswhen they visit the California Golden Bears on Saturday.
The 14th-ranked Beavers (7-1, 4-1 Pac 10) are enjoying their best startsince their Rose Bowl season of 1964, and they have won seven of their firsteight games for only the second time since 1939. Oregon State still has anoutside shot to make the Rose Bowl, though it needs to win its three remaininggames and hope that Washington loses at least one more game.
The main reason for the Beavers success this season is running back KenSimonton, who has taken aim at the Pac 10 rushing records. The junior tailbackran for 169 yards in 38-9 win over Washington State on Saturday, making him thefirst player in Pac 10 history to rush for at least 1,000 yards as a freshman,sophomore, and junior.
'He's really a special guy,' Oregon State quarterback Jonathan Smith said.'Sometimes I hand it to him, and it's amazing to watch him go.'
Simonton, who ranks 10th all-time in Pac 10 history with 3,677 rushingyards, could jump into seventh place this week against California. The juniorneeds just 55 yards to pass former UCLA running back Gaston Green's total of3,731.
'He just amazes you every time he goes out there and plays,' Oregon Statecoach Dennis Erickson said. 'He's a great back, one of the best in footballright now.'
Another key to the Beavers' offense is Smith, who is in his first season asthe starting quarterback. The walk-on has been outstanding over the last fourgames, throwing for 1,135 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The Bears (3-5, 2-3 Pac 10), meanwhile, are hoping to salvage a chance toplay in a bowl this season. Cal, which has not played in the postseason sincethe 1996 Aloha Bowl, would need to win its remaining three games forconsideration.
Cal's bowl hopes lie with its defense, which is led by defensive end AndreCarter. The senior earned Pac 10 Defensive Player of the Week honors last weekfor his 2 1/2 sack performance in the Bears' 28-16 win over USC. Carter made ninetackles in the game and one of his sacks caused a fumble that led to atouchdown.