The emotion will run high for Cal's seniors on Saturday as they play their final home game, but there is plenty at stake to keep them focused.
A victory over Oregon State would make the Bears (5-4) bowl eligible, an achievement they couldn't attain last season, when they went 5-7 and had a streak of seven straight bowl appearances snapped.
"We don't want to bury our heads in the sand about the possibility of winning this game and being bowl eligible," senior safety Sean Cattouse said. "We feel like we're going to get there through these next three games. But we just want to focus on this game."
With road contests against No. 3 Stanford and Arizona State to finish the season, beating the Beavers (2-7) is certainly the Bears' easiest route to the postseason.
Expect Cal to use the same formula as in last week's victory over Washington State, running the ball often against an Oregon State defense that's allowed 171.2 rushing yards per game.
The Bears would like to give their seniors a win in their final home game, even though "home" has offered an unusual feel in 2011. Cal is hosting its fifth game of the season at AT&T Park, as Memorial Stadium is undergoing extensive renovations and is unavailable.
The Bears are 3-1 at AT&T, a venue built for baseball that does not offer the same home-field advantage as Memorial. For one, Cal's student section is in one of the end zones rather than right behind the team's bench
Although Cattouse says "there's nothing like running out of Memorial Stadium," Saturday's game will be meaningful to him and his senior teammates.
"It's more about the guys than where we're playing," Cattouse said. "I know it's going to be pretty emotional for me."
Of course, there's a chance this won't be Cal's final game at AT&T Park. If they get a sixth win, they might be invited to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, scheduled for Dec. 31 at the venue. Cal, at 5-4, is currently tied with UCLA and Utah for fifth place among bowl eligible teams in the Pac-12.
The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl will pick sixth among bowls that are contracted to take a Pac-12 team, and organizers for that game would surely like to land Cal because of the potential local draw.