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Oregon State Football: Three Storylines Heading Into Thursday’s Game Vs. Stanford

The Beavers welcome Stanford to Corvallis on Thursday night.

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Stanford Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

How Do The Beavers Stop Bryce Love?

Seriously. Does anyone out there have any ideas? Obviously, Oregon State’s coaching staff will due their diligence in terms of preparing and scheming to contain Stanford running back and Heisman candidate Bryce Love, but it’s doubtful that the Beavers can somehow in just a few short days magically transform into a stout run-defense oriented squad. All season long, Oregon State has been abused at the line of scrimmage by more physical and powerful offensive lines who can make even the most mediocre of backs look fantastic. Imagine what that scenario will look like now with one of college football’s best runners thrown into the equation.

Love’s gaudy stats aside (so what if he’s averaging near 200 yards per game on the ground alone), it’s more than just the elusive back’s style of running that makes him hard to bring down. He fills nearly the same role that now-Carolina Panthers back Christian McCaffrey did in the past few seasons for the Cardinal, as a versatile option coming out of the backfield as well and Stanford’s “home-run rushing attack” easily makes most of their sometimes smash-mouth approach and turns it into a seriously hard-to-guard effort. Simply put, if the Beavers allow Love to find his seams and post another 200-yard outing, it’ll be a long Thursday night in Corvallis for the home squad.

More Injury Woes For Oregon State

Oregon State hasn’t been spared from too many injuries this season and heading into Thursday’s game against the Cardinal, their usual injury report list includes one too many of the Beavers’ critical talents. It’s been well publicized that wide receiver Seth Collins will remain out, but a bevy of defensive backs alongside Collins’ name could be the issue for interim head coach Cory Hall’s squad.

NCAA Football: Oregon State at Southern California
The Beavers are sporting a banged-up secondary for this week’s match-up against Stanford.
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive backs Xavier Crawford, Jaydon Grant, Austin Hudson, Drew Kell and Dwayne Williams are listed officially listed as out already, while cornerback Jay Irvine and safety David Morris are both listed as doubtful. Offensive lineman Trent Moore is also listed among the doubtful Beavers players on the chart. Across the board, Oregon State will have to rework their roster against a Stanford offense that can really get the ball moving at times. While there’s never a good time for injuries, one of the worst occasions is right before you welcome a top-twenty team in the country to town.

The “Cory Hall” Effect

The insertion of interim head coach Cory Hall was clearly the “shot in the arm” that Oregon State needed, as the Beavers looked like a completely re-inspired unit in their hard-fought, three-point loss to Colorado. However, the Buffs were a team in search of their own first Pac-12 victory and nowhere near the talent level of a squad like Stanford. So will the “Cory Hall” effect carry over into game two of his stay as head coach? Or will the Beavers simply be over-matched in every facet of the game by the Cardinal?

The hope of Beaver Nation is that Hall can come up with a suitable game-plan to slow down Stanford, which has been known to become a stagnant offensive group when their run game is slowed down. Although, as previously mentioned extensively in our mentioning of Cardinal running back Bryce Love, such a task will not be just so easily done. Oregon State will not only need to bring a top-level effort emotionally but also begin to execute with the focus needed to pull off a conference victory. If the Beavers can keep this thing tight until late in the ball-game, Oregon State may have a solid shot to stun Stanford.