CORVALLIS, Ore.(AP) While the Oregon State Beavers wouldn't dare mention it, their fans weren't at all afraid.
``We Smell Roses!'' read a trio of signs lofted by fans at Reser Stadium following No. 23 Oregon State's 34-21 victory over California.
With the win, the Beavers edged closer to their first appearance in the Rose Bowl since New Year's Day, 1965.
Because Oregon State defeated then-No. 1 USC 27-21 on Sept 21, the Beavers hold the tiebreaker for a Rose Bowl berth should both teams win out. Oregon State visits Arizona next weekend before hosting Oregon in the Civil War rivalry game.
``It's just one step closer to our goals,'' Jacquizz Rodgers said of the Beavers' fifth straight win.
Lyle Moevao completed 14 of 28 passes for 145 yards for Oregon State (7-3, 6-1 Pacific-10 Conference. Jacquizz Rodgers, the Pac-10's leading rusher, ran for 144 yards and a score while older brother James Rodgers caught six passes for 50 yards and ran 18 yards for a touchdown.
Moevao referred to the Rose Bowl as ``It.''
``The thing about having it in the back of our minds is that we get hungry for it. We want it so bad,'' he said. ``But we know what we are going to have to do and how we're going to get there.''
Kevin Riley, who grew up to the north in Portland, started for Cal (6-4, 4-3) and completed 11 of 25 passes for 117 yards and a score. Jahvid Best ran for 116 yards and a touchdown.
``The strength of this team is defense and we played pretty well,'' Golden Bears coach Jeff Tedford said. ``But this is a team game and we have to play well in all three phases. So we need to regroup.''
Cal jumped in front on its first series, scoring on Riley's 5-yard pass to Verran Tucker. Oregon State quickly answered, when James Rodgers returned the kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown. It was the first kickoff return for a score this season in the Pac-10.
The Beavers made it 14-7 when Sammie Stroughter returned a punt 56 yards to the California 2-yard line and Jacquizz Rodgers ran it in for the touchdown.
Justin Kahut added a 28-yard field goal for the Beavers in the second quarter. But the Golden Bears narrowed it when Riley lateraled to Jeremy Ross, who threw a 30-yard scoring pass to Nyan Boateng to make it 17-14 going into the half.
Kahut kicked a 24-yard field goal early in the second half before James Rodgers ran 18 yards for a score to make it 27-14.
Best's 65-yard touchdown run narrowed it for Cal before the end of the third quarter.
The Beavers missed a chance at the start of the fourth when Kahut's 29-yard field goal attempt went wide right. But Keenan Lewis sealed it for Oregon State when he intercepted Riley and ran 25 yards for a touchdown with 31 seconds to play.
Oregon State coach Mike Riley doesn't think he'll need to find ways to keep players loose down the stretch given what's on the line.
``I don't think we'll have to. I think these guys are having fun playing these games,'' he said. ``I don't want them to get uptight about it. I just want this team to go out and have fun on Saturdays.''
Mike Riley even admitted, sheepishly, that he does think about the possibility of going to the Rose Bowl.
``Yes, I do, and it scares me,'' he said. ``We all know when the season starts what the goal is, and that's the Rose Bowl.''
Last season the Beavers beat the second-ranked Golden Bears in Berkeley and probably kept them from reaching the top of the rankings for the first time in 56 years. No. 1 LSU had lost earlier that day.
It was the first start of Kevin Riley's career. He drove Cal within field-goal range in the final minute with the Bears trailing 31-28, but made an ill-advised attempt to run the ball with no time-outs. The clock ran out before the Bears could get their kicking team on the field.
The Golden Bears had won their last two games in Corvallis, but Oregon State had not lost at Reser this season.
The Beavers were coming off a 34-6 victory over UCLA in Pasadena last weekend.
Cal was coming off a 17-3 loss to USC in Los Angeles. The Golden Bears finish the season out at home with games against Stanford and Washington.
``We have to see where we are as a team now,'' Kevin Riley said. ``We don't want it to happen, the same thing as last year where there were a couple of losses in a row. We have to look at ourselves and make plays, learn from mistakes and make something happen.''