Making a huge bump in the national standings after last week’s upset victory over UCLA, the No. 8 Stanford Cardinal meet the surging Oregon State Beavers on Saturday night at Reser Stadium.
The Beavers have dragged themselves back into the BCS ranks with six straight victories, including last week’s 49-17 blowout of Cal. A win over the Cardinal should also easily put them back into the AP rankings.
Stanford returned to the Top 10 after a one week absence by knocking the Bruins from their undefeated perch, and rest just behind Oregon and Oregon State in the Pac-12 standings.
The Cardinal will earn the praise of the BCS by taking on the country’s most prolific and high-flying offense, led by quarterback Sean Mannion’s 2,992 passing yards and 29 touchdowns.
Mannion torched Cal for four touchdowns, and the Beaver defense let up a paltry 366 total yards and forced four turnovers. Receiver Brandin Cooks topped his previous career high with 13 catches for a whopping 232 yards and a touchdown.
A junior, Cooks is far and away the Pac-12’s top receiver with 76 receptions for 1,176 yards and 12 touchdowns, but the Cardinal secondary only lets up 247.1 yards per game in the air. Against the Bruins last week, Stanford junior safety Jordan Richards picked off Heisman hopeful Brett Hundley twice and the Cardinal only surrendered five third downs conversions.
A combined nine interceptions for upperclassmen corners Steven Nelson and Rashaad Reynolds, make the Oregon State defense just as deadly. The Beavers are tops in the Pac-12 with 14 total interceptions, with two returned for touchdowns.
The Cardinal are also tied for fourth in the conference with 19 team sacks, largely due to senior linebacker Trent Murphy’s seven sacks.
Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan completed a season-high 72 percent of his passes against UCLA, the first time he broke the 70 percent threshold since, strangely enough, last year’s Pac-12 title game win over the Bruins.
Hogan’s tossed 13 touchdowns to five interceptions, targeting Ty Montgomery the most for 36 receptions for 564 yards and five touchdowns.
The running back matchup could be the Saturday night’s deciding factor. The Beavers have perfectly halved the carries between Storm Woods and Terron Ward at 64 each, and both have come with four touchdowns and are hovering at 3.0 yards per attempt.
Most of the Stanford rush comes from senior Tyler Gaffney’s 114 carries for 741 yards and nine touchdowns. Gaffney is second in the Pac-12 in carries and tied for second in touchdowns.
Point Spread: Stanford favored by 4.5 points.
Kickoff Time: 10:30 PM Eastern Time
Where To Watch Online: ESPN3
TV Channel: ESPN
Prediction: Oregon State 40, Stanford 30