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Oregon State vs. Stanford: Q&A with Rule of Tree

The #20 team in the land pays a visit to Corvallis on Thursday night, so let’s learn from some Stanford experts.

NCAA Football: Stanford at Utah
The backfield of Bryce Love (20) and Keller Chryst (10) has been effective for the Cardinal.
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The season rolls on as the 1-6 Beavs host the nationally ranked, 4-2 Stanford Cardinal. The game is set for 6:00 PM PT kickoff on Thursday night and you can catch it on ESPN. Stanford’s success has come largely off the work of running back and Heisman front runner Bryce Love, but he may not be able to play due to injury. For more insight, we turned to one of SB Nation’s resident Stanford experts: Jack Blanchat of

1. Are we going to see Bryce Love against OSU?

David Shaw has been noncommital, but I feel like we'll see a limited dose of Bryce Love on Thursday. With a week off to get right and no structural damage, Love should theoretically be okay to go.

2. The team's seen a pretty massive improvement since the losses to USC and San Diego State. What have been the biggest reasons for those four straight victories?

Improved quarterback play has helped for sure, but the offensive line has settled in nicely as well. Some early season tinkering moved players all around - it's not worth the time to recap it all here - and they've been much better at opening holes and protecting the pair of QBs Stanford has used.

3. Stanford's offensive line is usually one of the nation's best and this year seems to be the same. Who are the key players there?

One of the bright spots has been left tackle Walker Little, who is a true freshman and has stepped in nicely at the o-line's highest-profile spot. However, everyone's fan favorite is right guard Nate Herbig, a 350-pound behemoth from Hawaii. Herbig, who is nicknamed "Big Island," is a huge man, and he pulverizes guys in the run game.

4. With Washington and Washington State still on the schedule, do you think that Stanford can win the Pac-12 north this year?

I feel like Stanford has improved a lot at an important time in the schedule, and certainly has a great shot to win the North. However, I'd like to see more from Stanford's defense before I can say that with any degree of confidence, as well as a little more clarity at QB. While Washington's flop at ASU and Wazzu's stunner at Cal did make me perk up my eyebrows, both those teams did decisively beat Stanford last year, so I'm wishy-washy at the moment.

5. How have the Cardinal been defensively?

The defensive backfield has played okay and defensive tackle Harrison Phillips has been outstanding in all phases of the game, but the Stanford run defense is still a putrid 109th in the country. Now part of that is facing off against Rashaad Penny, Royce Freeman, and a USC run game that dominated the night, but it's been a continued weak point for the Cardinal.

6. Outcome and final score prediction for this game?

If Bryce Love plays, I have a hard time seeing anything other than a comfortable win for the Cardinal - maybe 35-14, Stanford.