Terron Ward (28) and Storm Woods will have their hands full against a stout Stanford defense that ranks among the best in the nation against both the run and pass. Mandatory Credit: Susan Ragan-USA TODAY Sports
The Oregon State Beavers seek their second Pac-12 and fifth overall win Saturday, when the Beavs travel to Stanford in an early afternoon conference matchup against The Cardinal.
It will be a tall order for Mike Riley and The Beavers; a program that has lost four straight in the series and hasn’t left Stanford Stadium with a win since the Walt Harris-era (2006, 30-7).
In the eight years since that victory, Stanford’s program has experienced a meteoric-rise, highlighted by the talents of Jim Harbaugh, Andrew Luck, and Toby Gerhart (just to name a few). The three aforementioned stars are long since departed to the greener pastures of the NFL; however, the attitude and prestige of a rebuilt program have made what was once thought of as a “gimmie” in conference play, into a hotly contested matchup against arguably the Pac-12’s most physical team.
Head Coach David Shaw has continued Stanford’s new found esteem, mixing a combination of smash-mouth defense and a tough, gritty running game that drains opposing teams both physically and mentally.
Stanford boats one of the nation’s top defenses; surrendering just over 12 points per game out a tenacious 3-4 base defense. With the best group of linebackers in the conference, Oregon State will have to establish threats on the ground and through the air if they want to derail The Cardinal defense.
Critical to that effort will be wide receivers Victor Bolden and Jordan Villamin. If the two speedy outside targets can get open down field, it will keep Stanford from putting eight men in the box to take advantage of a banged up offensive line and statuesque quarterback in Sean Mannion.
Terron Ward and Storm Woods were both nicked up during the Utah game, but returned to practice in full by Wednesday. The backfield tandem has produced 10 touchdowns and over 1000 yards of total offense in the Beavers 6 games so far. Oregon State will need to capitalize on every bit of versatility between the two as blockers, rushers, and passing options.
Sean Mannion’s arm has gone cold in recent weeks, having thrown three touchdowns and four interceptions in his last four starts. While part of this is due to health problems at the wide receiver position and inconsistency among a talent group of tight ends, Mannion will need to be on-point in Saturday’s matchup; both to preserve the chances of a Beaver victory and to maintain status as Oregon State’s best option at the Quarterback position in the twilight of his time as a Beaver.
If Oregon State hopes to pull the upset, it’s going to take more than a complete game on offense and defense. The Beavers will need a dose of luck, possibly in the form of some choice turnovers or special teams scores, to turn the tide on what will surely be a low-scoring contest.
Score Prediction: Stanford 21-10
Position Prediction: Look for backup quarterbacks Luke Del Rio or Brent VanderVeen to see some action at the end of regulation.