The outlook for pulling an upset of a top ten team isn't too good, based on results so far this weekend. Arizona and Alabama both got up on Oregon and Auburn, respectively, but couldn't close the deal in the second half, when the pressure mounted. Nevada never took a lead against Boise St. until the fourth quarter, and once they did, it only took Kellen Moore and Doug Martin 21 seconds to answer.
But Colin Kaepernick and the Wolfpack answered as well, and then Boise St. kicker Kyle Brotzman twice missed field goals at near point-blank range, from dead center, costing the Broncos a BCS berth, and possibly a national championship. Nevada had restored hope for everyone hunting for an upset, and suddenly, TCU is the favorite to go to the Rose Bowl.
Of course, Nevada is a deflected interception from being undefeated themselves, so it wasn't that big of an upset.
And there is now a greatly enhanced chance of Stanford getting a BCS at-large bid, to go along with the guaranteed BCS berth Oregon has locked up. It should elevate the Cardinal's resolve to a level not seen on the farm in 40 years.
Stanford has a grass field, and it's been raining today, softening it up even more, which is not to Oregon St.'s advantage either. The Beavers' biggest advantage is the foot speed of Jacquizz Rodgers, Marcus Wheaton, and Jordan Bishop.
Still, the Oregon St. receiving corp, including Aaron Nichols and Joe Halahuni, as well as the above mentioned trio, still is an overmatch against Stanford, and one that the Beavers should be able to leverage to open up the running game for Quizz. Some sustained scoring drives somewhat negates the Stanford offense's physical running game.
It's also well worth noting that neither team has made major changes from a year ago, when Oregon St. had the formula for shutting down what turned out to be a pretty good Stanford squad. The 38-28 win came after leading for over 55 minutes against a Cardinal team that had only trailed for less than five minutes all season before running into the Beavers.
Most teams in the Pac-10 match up well against some teams, and really struggle against others, and it often doesn't matter how well the teams are doing overall. This is one of those matchups, where Oregon St. stands a better chance than some others against a good Stanford team, if they can determine which of the matchups decide the game.
Which is to say Oregon St. has to keep the game from being about Andrew Luck vs. the Beaver secondary. Then the matchup swings dramatically in Stanford's favor.
A crisp, turnover free offensive performance by the Beavers is crucial. Ryan Katz's ability to limit interceptions thrown, and 'Quizz being fumble proof, means that's within reason, though.
Another potential plus is how much Stephen Paea has tended to improve as games go on, and also the season wears on. Stanford has been able to go man on man with their offensive line against most opponents' defensive fronts. That won't work when Paea is involved.No reasonable person seriously doubts the difficulty of defeating Oregon either, making this game pretty much essential for bowl eligibility. The sense of urgency won't be overlooked.
Luck is going to be an early first round pick, possibly as early as you can get, though, and the message of Friday's games will be reinforced. Oregon St. will put up a fight, but mobile quarterbacks are a problem for the Beavers, even after some adjustments to the linebacker's schemes. Luck will lead the Cardinal out of a tough game, and into serious BCS at large contention. Prediction: Stanford 31 Oregon St. 21
To be honest, I don't like our chances in this one. Our defense hasn't shown the ability to stop mobile Quarterbacks' all year long, and I think Harbaugh and Company will take advantage of this early on. If the Oregon State defense is able to stop Luck on the ground, the future #1 Pick can throw through the air all day as well. If we are to have a chance in this one, Brandon Hardin and James Dockery will need to have huge games, along with our D-Line and Stephen Paea.
On the Offensive side of the ball, it will be the usual stuff. Quizz will need to have a few big runs, and most importantly, NO TURNOVERS. It's going to take a near perfect game to beat the Cardinal, and turning the ball over at all will flush any chances of an upset down the toilet.
I wouldn't put anything past this team, but we just don't match up well against them. Prediction: Stanford-31, Oregon State-17