Game Of The Week, #11 Oregon State at #14 Stanford
Another week with a good game in the Pac-12. Here we go:
The Stanford Offense: As of Wednesday morning, redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan is Stanford’s starting QB. Josh Nunes was benched early in Stanford’s game against Colorado last week after the offense failed to get anything going; Hogan, previously used mainly in Wildcat-type packages, proceeded to complete 18 of 23 passes for 184 yards, two TDs and no interceptions in a 48-0 win over the Buffs. However, the Cardinal face a much stiffer test this week in #11 Oregon State. The Beavers’ fifth-ranked run defense will likely keep Stepfan Taylor at least somewhat bottled up and force Hogan to either throw the ball or run it himself. Expect TEs Levine Toilolo and Zach Ertz to continue to be the top targets in the passing game.
The Stanford Defense: The one hiccup this year for the Cardinal was the game against Arizona’s spread offense. Other than that, the defense has been excellent. The run defense is #1 in the country, and actually held both Colorado and Washington State to negative rushing yardage. Stanford also leads the country in sacks, with 40 from 13 different players. Their one weakness is pass defense, giving up 254 yards to USC and 491 to Arizona, although Notre Dame was held to 141.
The Oregon State Offense: QB Cody Vaz will be the starter again this week. Protecting him against national sack leader Stanford will be a priority. In addition to being sacked several times, Vaz lost two fumbles last week against Arizona State. They won that game, but I think it’s unlikely the result would be the same against team as strong as the Cardinal. In the running game, Storm Woods has by far the most yards and carries, but Terron Ward is averaging 6.1 yards per carry. Chances are the Beavers will need both of them, as well as leading WRs Brandin Cooks and Markus Wheaton, to contribute in a big way against the Cardinal D.
The Oregon State Defense: The Beavers’ defense is obviously doing a lot right. The most points they’ve allowed in a game this season is 35, to Arizona; everyone else on their schedule has been held to 26 or fewer, good for 19th nationally. The biggest challenges OSU will face in this game are stopping Stepfan Taylor with their 5th-ranked run defense, and covering Stanford’s leading receivers, TEs Levine Toilolo and Zach Ertz. As is often the case against tight ends, the defensive backs will face a size mismatch against the 6’8”, 265 lb. Toilolo and 6’6”, 252 lb. Ertz.
Prediction: This is a tough one to call. These teams are similar and evenly matched in several key ways, and I expect a close, entertaining game. I think having a marginally more experienced QB might give the edge to the Beavers. Oregon State 20, Stanford 17.