Week 11 – Oregon State at Stanford

Posted Nov 7, 2012

Week 11 Fearless Prediction – Oregon State at Stanford

Oregon State (7-1) at Stanford (7-2) Nov. 10, 3:00, Fox

Here's The Deal: So who's left to challenge Oregon in the Pac-12 North? Oregon State and Stanford will convene on the Farm this Saturday afternoon in what amounts to a divisional elimination game.

Although the Ducks are the clear-cut story in the Pac-12, the Beavers and the Cardinal still control their own destiny in the league. If either wins out, it's going to finish the year in Pasadena. Shorthanded Oregon State rebounded like a champion last week, fending off Arizona State, 36-26, in the week after suffering its first loss of the season. It was an important statement for the nation's No. 11 team, dispelling any notions that it would go in the tank after leaving the ranks of the unbeaten.

While everyone seems to have forgotten about two-loss Stanford, the team has gradually nudged up to No. 14 in the BCS standings. Winners of three straight against some of the worst opponents that the Pac-12 has to offer, the Cardinal will finish the regular season by facing three of the conference's premier teams of 2012. David Shaw's kids will go in one of two directions from here, either returning to a January bowl game by rising to the occasion, or sinking into mediocrity. Life after Andrew Luck will be defined by how the team performs over the next three weeks.

Why Oregon State Might Win: The Beavers have better weapons on offense than the Cardinal.

Hey, this game won't be a shootout by any stretch, but it will require some offense to get the win. Oregon State has the more consistent quarterback, Cody Vaz, and far better playmakers on the outside in receivers Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks. The Beavers will challenge an average Stanford secondary, helping open up running lanes for Terron Ward and the backs. The Cardinal won't have that luxury. Forget last week's blowout of lowly Colorado. Stanford has a feeble offensive attack, with a revolving door at quarterback and no consistency through the air. RB Stepfan Taylor is the linchpin, but he'll be running against a speedy D that's ranked No. 5 nationally against the run, and will get after the quarterback with DE Scott Crichton.

Why Stanford Might Win: The Oregon State defense is solid. Stanford's is a full rung better.

The Beavers are fifth against the run? Pfft. The Cardinal is No. 1, allowing less than two yards a carry. It'll render OSU one-dimensional, or worse, no-dimensional if the line continues to struggle in pass protection. The unit gave up five sacks last week, a microcosm for what's happened this fall. Stanford is going to maul its opponent with a front seven responsible for a top ranking in sacks and tackles for loss as well. The Cardinal boasts an SEC-like front wall of talent being bolstered by all-star caliber linebackers Shayne Skov, Chase Thomas and Trent Murphy. Arizona, with its high-powered spread, is the only team to have scored more than 20 points on Stanford this season.

What To Watch Out For: There's cautious optimism around Stanford that the team has finally mined a quarterback to spark the offense.

Shaw went ahead and gave more reps to Kevin Hogan, and the redshirt freshman delivered on the opportunity. He went 18-of-23 for 184 yards and two touchdowns, adding 48 yards on the ground. Hogan was the anti-Josh Nunes, but he was also facing one of the worst defenses in America. So, can he build on his breakout game, or will the Oregon State defense be too tall of a challenge? The coaching staff absolutely loves what it saw last week in the 6-4, 224-pound, setting up what promises to be a very interesting matchup this weekend.

What Will Happen: Oregon State is resilient, and has proven it can win on the road, but its Pac-12 title hopes are going to end in Northern California.

The divide between the Beavers and the Cardinal is not that wide. However, Stanford will enjoy an edge in home-field and overall physicality. Wheaton aside, OSU doesn't have the team speed to spread the field the on Stanford the way Arizona did. Instead, it's going to get bullied into punts and mistakes by that rugged Cardinal defensive front. Stanford has become an immovable object, a particular concern for teams having problems with the basics, like blocking. The Cardinal won't be able to run away and hide. But a steady diet of the power ground game, courtesy of Taylor and Hogan, will help keep the team in the North Division hunt.

CFN Prediction: Stanford 23 … Oregon State 17
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Stanford -5 O/U: 45
Must Watch Rating (5 – Skyfall, 1 – Wreck It Ralph): 3.5