Oregon State travels to Stanford to take on the Cardinal this Saturday for a 12 Noon matchup on FOX. Much is on the line. Oregon St. would be the preferred team wo win to enrich the conference coffers. That is because just like OSU, Stanford still has to play Oregon. While Oregon may only represent a 2nd likely loss for the Beavers (should they beat the Cardinal), for Stanford, even if they come out ahead versus OSU, it would represent at minimum their 3rd loss. A 3 loss team could finish in the Top 14 but the odds would probably be less than 35% that it turns out that way. Traditionally, Notre Dame has been picked up more by the Orange Bowl. A 2 loss OSU team would get the nod over Notre Dame with 97% certainty. That is because OSU would likely finish somewhere inside the Top 12, the two losses still represents a very good football team, and it is the silver and 50th anniversary of Terry Baker’s Heisman. The story is too good and OSU has been on the Hunt for a Rose Bowl for those same long 50 years.
That is why the main thing for the OSU season is to start off by beating the Cardinal. Then very good things happen. This year it is even more important than beating Oregon. John Hunt had a piece ealrier this week saying he thinks OSU will have a 1.5 to 1 ratio of pass vs run. I disagree. What he was describing in his chat was basically Langnam Style, better known as being far too pass happy. 1.5:1 would be a 60:40 ratio of pass vs. run. I broke down OSUProf’s numbers earlier and showed how OSU’s win percentage is best when we run atleast 49% of the time. Anywhere from 49-52% of running seems to be optimal for Riley. Those numbers showed that if we go below 46% and especially 45% running, than there is a parabloc decline in our % of winning. At 46% it starts a noticeable drop and at 45% it drops sharply. That is against the average team we face. Against a good team like Stanford, trying to win like that won’t be any more likely.
While I agree with Mr. Hunt that OSU will have a tough time gaining lots of yards running versus Stanford, that doesn’t change the importance of a balanced attack. Even though Stanford holds teams to under 2 yards a run, I still think OSU wants to run it atleast 46% of the time in this game. Storm, Ward or Agnew will just have to do their best to pick up 3 or more yards every time they can. They key in these numbers is not facing too many 3rd and longs. Incomplete passes are more likely to set you up for a tough 3rd and 10 situation. If you run for a few and even have 3rd and 7, it is much more statistically manageable. Plus, keeping close to 50-50 with a balanced attack also makes it so the passing lanes are more open and there is less confidence in the defense on what is about to come their way. It can be tough to have the discipline when you aren’t getting as many rushing yards, but the smart move is to keep plugging away and stick with the gameplan.
I think Riley will do a good job of instilling his planned attack in the players this week, but it will be paramount that Riley keep the playcalling duties this week. We will not win this game if we pass anywhere around Hunt’s thinking and are at 40% or less running. We have to have enough balance even against Stanford. Then Vaz will start being able to hit some big plays to Wheaton and Cooks that will be connectors and give those guys a chance to break free and score. Stanford did a good job of keeping Marqise Lee and the USC receivers from beating them deep too much. OSU needs their tight ends to catch the ball, use a few fly sweeps with our electric receivers and then have a good mix of running and taking some chances down the field along with smart routes that move the chains. The players just have to be plugged in and intent with their purpose form the get go and not make dumb mistakes. If they are 100% invested and care deeply, they will make sure they are playing a smart game and doing what it takes to win.
The OSU defense should be able to do an effective job in limiting new Stanford QB Hogan. He has pretty good touch, but Crichton, Poyer, Alexander and Murphy should all be able to make plays and force Stanford to punt with some frequency. Hopefully there will be multiple times where like ASU, we get them off the field relatively quickly and can maximize field position and our offensive time of possession. This game will be a battle of two very good, well coached teams. For OSU it represents a major opportunity and I disagree with Hunt also that I feel Riley does need to prove he can win a ‘big’ game. We have had several of these high profile matchups with alot on the line and not gotten the result that would push the program forward in the national spotlight. Most of these were against Oregon and beating Kelly’s offense is something very few teams can do. Beating Stanford does not represent the same level of obstacle. This is a winnable game if OSU limits its mistakes and plays with pure dedication and purpose. They just need to really want it, show this with a great all-around game and they can get the ‘W’ and then go get their double-doubles at In-N-Out.
OSU 27, Stanford 24