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Oregon State Football Opponent Preview: Stanford Cardinal

Can the Cardinal grab that elusive 6th win and become bowl eligible?

Stanford v Washington Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Stanford Cardinal

  • 2017-18 Record: 9-5 (7-2 PAC 12)
  • Current Record: 5-4 (3-3 PAC 12)
  • Previous Game Result: Loss @Washington (23-27)
  • Head Coach: David Shaw
  • Total Offense Ranking: 94th in FBS (372.2 YPG)
  • Total Defense Ranking: 77th in FBS (411.4 YPG)

Tale Of The Tape

It seems to be a theme among PAC 12 teams, but the Stanford Cardinal have really under-performed this season. As a whole, the PAC 12 has become a complete mess, with the integrity of the league being questioned and the teams on the field continuing to play well below expectations, so Stanford’s situation isn’t unique. What makes Stanford’s situation a little stranger than others in the PAC 12 is the fact that Stanford has a weapon that others don’t: Bryce Love.

Bryce Love’s lack of production isn’t his fault or the fault of Stanford, as he has been dealing with multiple injuries over the course of the year. Still, his lack of production certainly hasn’t helped his NFL Draft status and will likely be an example for future players of why you don’t go back to college for your senior year.

With the Beavers reeling after a home loss to USC, this may end up being the saving grace Head Coach David Shaw needs for his team. With a win, the Cardinal clinch a bowl spot and move up in a tight PAC 12 North race. While this season certainly isn’t what Cardinal fans were hoping for, clinching a 2nd or 3rd place spot in the PAC 12 North would be a decent consolation prize.


Player To Watch

Bryce Love (Running Back, Sr.)

Stanford v Washington Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Bryce Love has certainly not had the year he was hoping for. After stunning the college football world by announcing that he would return for his Senior Year at Stanford, the former Heisman candidate has fallen off a cliff in terms of production. Only a year after rushing for over 2,100 yards in 2017, Love has only managed a measly 490 yards in 2018. Now to be fair, injuries have played a large part in that.

However, even while on the field, Love’s impact has been minimal. Love has only rushed for 100+ yards once this season and has only carried the ball 20+ times once this season, both coming in the second game of the season against USC. Oregon State has had serious issues with stopping the run, so it will be interesting to see what David Shaw plans to do. Will he continue to rely heavily on QB K.J. Costello or will he rely more on Bryce Love? I believe it will be the latter, so expect to see Love get a serious amount of carries in what will likely be Love’s NFL audition tape.


Biggest Question Mark

To run the ball, or to pass the ball?

Stanford v Arizona State Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

David Shaw has a major decision to make. He has relied heavily on the throwing ability of Junior QB K.J. Costello in the previous 4 games, throwing the ball upwards of 40 times a game. However, the Cardinal have lost 4 of their last 5 games and only scored more than 30 points once. This will be a problem, as Oregon State averages 28.7 PPG on offense. With QB Jake Luton seemingly clicking with the Beavers offense, it will be essential for the Cardinal to keep the Beaver offense off the field and to score points. To do that, Stanford would be best served to run the ball. However, with Bryce Love’s health in question, it may be best to stick to throwing the ball and hoping the Cardinal defense can keep the Beavers offense in check. Ultimately, the decision comes down to David Shaw, but his decision could be much more important than many may be lead to believe, especially with “The Big Game” coming up next week against California.


History With Oregon State

Stanford has traditionally dominated the series with the Beavers. The Cardinal have 56 wins, 25 losses and 3 ties dating back to 1919. The Cardinal are currently on an 8 game winning streak over the Beavers, which dates back to 2010.


Schedule

The Beavers will be traveling to Seattle next week to play the Huskies before returning to Corvallis for the Civil War against Oregon in the season finale. The Cardinal have their rivalry game next week as they take on California in “The Big Game” in Berkeley, CA before traveling to LA for a season finale against Chip Kelly and the UCLA Bruins.