NCAA Football – Week 11
Oregon State has been one of the biggest surprises of the season thus far. The Beavers are 7-1 and ranked 11th in the nation. Mike Riley’s team will have a tough test this weekend as they travel to take on the Stanford Cardinal. Stanford is 5-0 at home this year, and the Cardinal are ranked 14th in the country.
Oregon State was picked to finish near the bottom of the PAC 12, and many thought Mike Riley was squarely on the hot seat. Riley’s team has been better than anyone (including Riley himself) expected this season. Cody Vaz will likely start at quarterback again in this one. Vaz is 3-0 as a starter for the Beavers this year, and he has seven touchdowns compared to just one interception. Sean Mannion is still healing from a knee injury suffered a few weeks ago. Oregon State has two receivers with at least 50 catches on the season. Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks have both been superb for the team this year.
The primary reason this team has been so successful this year is the strength of the Beavers defense. The front seven has been absolutely tremendous. Oregon State is fifth in the nation in rushing defense. Opponents are averaging only 92 yards per game on the ground. The secondary has been shaky at times, but the front seven do a nice job pressuring the opposing quarterback. Overall, Oregon State is giving up just 18.1 points per contest this year.
Stanford will have a new starter under center this week. Dual-threat quarterback Kevin Hogan will be the main man for the Cardinal offense. Hogan got extended work against Colorado last game, and he is the future of this program. Hogan is terrific at running the option, which is something Coach David Shaw is expected to use quite a bit in the coming weeks. Stepfan Taylor is the team’s best offensive weapon, and when he runs the ball well Stanford usually wins. Stanford only ranks 86th in the nation in total offense, so this unit needs a bit of a boost.
The Stanford defense ranks first in the nation at stopping the run. The Cardinal are only allowing opponents to run for a measly 56 yards per game. Stanford’s defense has been terrific in big games this year. The Cardinal got after Matt Barkley in a big way when they picked up the upset win over USC. The team has a clear weakness in the secondary, so it is incumbent upon the front seven to bring the heat.
Rarely will you ever see two teams with so much in common. Both teams have a bit of a quarterback controversy. Both teams have a great run defense, but they are weak against the pass. I expect a low scoring close game here, so I’ll take the underdog with the points.
Stanford 21 Oregon State 20