No. 6 Stanford travels to No. 25 Oregon State
The game's implications
Both No. 25 Oregon State and No. 6 Stanford control their own destinies in the Pac-12 north division. If Stanford can beat their five remaining opponents, they have an outside shot at a National Championship appearance. Oregon State hasn’t been to a BCS game since 2001 when Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh led the Beavers to a 41-9 win over Notre Dame.
Oregon State schedule
While No. 25 Oregon State is 6-1 this year, their one loss came at the hands of FCS opponent Eastern Washington, 49-46. The Beavers haven’t played a ranked team all year, so Saturday night’s game should be a good assessment of where the Beavers stand in comparison to the conference’s elite. Their out of conference schedule consisted of Eastern Washington, Hawaii and San Diego State. The Beavers under head coach Mike Reily are well versed in top-10 upsets -- 2006 defeated No. 3 USC, 2007 No. 2 Cal, 2008 No. 1 USC and 2010 No. 9 Arizona.
Beaver passing game
Redshirt junior quarterback Sean Mannion (Pleasanton, CA) is having a breakout year for the Beavers, leading the NCAA in passing yards per game (414.3) and passing touchdowns with 29. More importantly, he has cut down on his poor decision making -- 15 touchdowns to 13 interceptions last year compared to this season's 29 to 3. Mannion’s top receiver, junior Brandin Cooks (Stockton, CA), is having a fine year as well, leading the NCAA with 76 receptions, 1176 yards and 12 touchdowns. The Beavers also rank ninth in the nation in total scoring offense, averaging 44.1 points per game.
Stanford run game
One of the major keys to last week’s 24-10 win against previously unbeaten UCLA was Stanford’s run game. Led by senior Tyler Gaffney’s 36 carries for 171 yards, the Cardinal offense ran for a total of 192 yards. Their vaunted run attack guided them to a possession time of 37 minutes compared to UCLA’s 23 minutes. Stanford will once again need to lean heavily on the run game against Oregon State. While the Beavers are ranked No. 29 in the NCAA in run defense, they have shown that they’re susceptible to running quarterbacks. In Oregon State’s two close games this year--a loss to Eastern Washington and an overtime win at Utah--the Beavers gave up 107 yards to Eastern Washington’s quarterback and 142 yards to Utah’s.
Although Stanford’s defense hasn’t been as potent as previous years, the Cardinal still boasts the 24th ranked scoring defense and 18th ranked rush defense. Stanford has been susceptible to the passing game this year, giving up an average of 247.1 yards per game, ranking 85th in the nation. The saving grace for the Cardinal has been their ability to create interceptions -- nine interceptions in seven games, ranking 23rd. Last week the defense played lights out, limiting Heisman hopeful quarterback Brett Hundley to a mere 219 total yards. Jordan Richards -- two interceptions last week -- and the rest of the secondary will need to play with the same dominance this week.