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Quizz vs. Best make interesting matchup in Beavers game

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Jacquizz Rodgers, Keelan Johnson, Pierre Singfield
Oregon State Jacquizz Rodgers faces off with Cal's Jahvid Best on Saturday in a battle of two of the best running backs in the nation. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)

Two of the most dynamic running backs in the nation face off Saturday when the Oregon State football team plays California in a Pacific-10 Conference game.

OSU's Jacquizz Rodgers and Cal's Jahvid Best were the top two ball carriers in the Pac-10 last season and they've kept up similar paces this season.

Both are of vital importance in the success of their teams. When they are playing well everything goes smoothly.

"If we win, many times our running back does pretty well," coach Mike Riley said. "That's our identity."

Best and Rodgers will never be on the field at the same time, but this is a rivalry of who can out-do who.

Winning the game is the most important aspect, but comparing them makes for interesting fodder going into the showdown.

"It's like a competition," Rodgers said. "You have to go out and compete and do the best you can. I just do it for my team and to win the game."

Best won the Pac-10 rushing title last season when Rodgers missed the last six quarters of the regular season with a shoulder injury. Best gained 1,580 yards with an 8.1-yard average per carry and scored 15 touchdowns.

However, Rodgers had done enough to be voted by the coaches the conference offensive player of the year. He gained 1,243 yards and scored 11 touchdowns.

"They are both in their own way tremendous players," Riley said. "That's the unique thing about great backs. They have ability, and have a knack for seeing."

Rodgers got the best of Best in their first meeting from last year's game. He gained 144 yards and had a touchdown.

Best rushed for 116 yards and a score, but the Beavers won the game. The Beavers didn't really stop Best, they contained him enough.

"They are both quality running backs," linebacker Keaton Kristick said. "Any team that has a running back like Quizz, and you play a running back like Best, it's to their advantage to practice against Quizz."

Rodgers has put together a better season so far this year. He's second in the Pac-10 in rushing with an average of 115 yards a game and 14 touchdowns, second in the conference in receiving with 49 catches for 247 yards and a touchdown, and he's thrown a passing touchdown.

Best is fourth in the conference with a 104-yard average with 11 rushing touchdowns and four receiving. He started well, struggled with the rest of his team in two early conference losses and has come back strong.

An ankle injury slowed him last week against Arizona State, but he's expected to play against the Beavers.

"Jahvid is explosive," Riley said. "He can just flat out run. He has great speed. He gets an opening and it's scary. I don't know about comparing or contrasting too much in describing Quizz. To me Quizz has good speed. He has great cutting ability in the hole. And then he has that great leverage to make three extra yards."

Best had preseason Heisman Trophy hopes but they were derailed during the slump. Rodgers is starting to get mentioned as one of the large pool of Heisman candidates.

Having them face off on the same field creates a good preview for voters to see what they can do in an important conference game.

"I haven't seen many players on the football field faster," Riley said of Best. "And then he's strong. You got to tackle him squarely. He'll run through you. He'll make one cut and go. Quizz is a little more jittery and quick."

So sit back and enjoy two masters of their craft at work Saturday.


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