Things are getting tight all across the nation in college football as the season is winding down and each team is fighting for positioning within their respective conferences. This is especially true in the Pac-12 where in week 11 two of the conference’s top teams will do battle as the #11 Oregon State Beavers (7-1, 5-1 in Pac-12)head to Palo Alto, CA to take on the #14 Stanford Cardinal (7-2, 5-2 in Pac-12) in what should be a tremendous match up between two teams that feature stout defenses.
The Beavers offense enters the game averaging 306.1 passing yards per game (21st in FBS), 114.5 rushing yards per game (108th in FBS) and 26.3 points scored per game (77th FBS) while their defense is averaging 339 yards allowed per game (30th in FBS) and 18.1 points allowed per game (19th in FBS). Head Coach Mike Riley will have his team fired up because he knows this is probably their most important game of the season to date and a win here could place them in major bowl contention this postseason.
The Beavers have one glaring problem on offense and that is the age old one where if a team has two quarterbacks then that usually means that they don’t have a good one. Both sophomore Sean Mannion (1,579 yards, 8 TD, 8 INT and 61.6% completion rate) and junior Cody Vaz (870 yards, 7 TD, 1 INT and 55.9% completion rate) have seen significant time behind center for the Beavers this season and Riley has not let the media know as of Thursday which of the two will get the start this week. Either way the Beavers will definitely rely on Storm Woods (117 carries for 540 yards and ^ TD along with 23 receptions for 184 yards) to carry a major load of the offensive work this week . In the passing no matter who the starting quarterback is he better get the ball in the hands of the Beavers two best playmakers, Brandin Cooks (50 receptions for 906 yards and 4 TD) and Markus Wheaton (54 receptions for 787 yards and 8 TD) in order to give them an opportunity to come out of this game with a victory.
The Cardinal offense is averaging 207.2 passing yards gained per game (88th in FBS), 166.6 rushing yards gained per game (58th in FBS) and 29.3 points scored per game (60th in FBS) while their defense is averaging 321.7 yards allowed per game (20th in FBS) and 16.6 points allowed per game (12th in FBS). If Stanford loses this game then they can possibly kiss their chances of playing in a New Years Day bowl game goodbye.
The cardinal have made a decision at quarterback for this game and they will go with freshman Kevin Hogan who has passed for 193 yards and three touchdown while completing 79% of his attempts and rushing for 64 yards on 14 carries in his limited duty this season. Running back Stefan Taylor is the key cog in the Cardinal engine and thus far this season he has rushed for 947 yards and eight touchdowns on 206 carries along with hauling in 26 receptions for 137 additional yards and a trip to the endzone; if Taylor has a big game it could be a long day for the Beavers. When passing the ball Hogan will rely on his threats at the tight end position Zach Ertz (38 receptions for 566 yards and 4 TD) and Levine Toiolol (18 receptions for 347 yards and 4 TD).
This game should be a fantastic one for all spectators viewing either in person at Stanford Stadium or watching on television. It should be close but in the end I like the home team to come away with the victory. I’ll take Stanford 24 – Oregon State 20.