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Week 10 Matchups to Watch: Something about Beavers and Trees...

NCAA Football: Oregon State at Arizona State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

One more tune-up. One more trap game. One more shot at Stanford as a PAC12 opponent. Oregon State returns to Corvallis with one game left between them and back-to-back matchups with top-6 opponents. In order to make those games count and keep the Oregon State’s slim PAC12 championship hopes alive, OSU must take care of business against a Stanford team that has struggled this year but is capable of hanging with if the Beavs let them.

The Cardinal have wins against Hawai’i, Colorado, and most recently Washington State this year. They lost by 1 to Arizona and stayed within 2 points of #5 Washington mid-way through the 4th quarter of that game. They also have blowout losses to USC, Oregon, and UCLA on their resume, and their defense has yet to stop any team outside of the Cougars and Wildcats from putting up 30 or more (including Sacramento State, who beat Stanford 30-23 back in Week 3).

Beavers on Offense

Until last week, it was easy to categorize Stanford alongside Colorado as the worst defense in the PAC12. For all Washington State has struggled in conference play, their offense has been able to put up points. The Cardinal were able to shut down the WSU run game (hampered by injuries to their top two running backs) and force the Cougars to be one dimensional. They were then able to get home against Cam Ward, sacking him 4 times, and when put alongside 4 dropped passes was enough to keep WSU in check.

It’s unlikely Stanford will be able to hold Oregon State to 1.9 yards per carry like they did WSU last week. The Beavers were clearly chasing balance in the Colorado game and keeping that emphasis on Saturday will keep Stanford off balance and force a performance closer to what we have seen the rest of the season.

WR #13 Jesiah Irish vs CB #17 Jshawn Frausto-Ramos

The top four members of the Stanford secondary have graded out fine this season by PFF’s account. Corners Collin Wright and Zahran Manley work the outside and safeties Scotty Edwards and Alaka’i Gilman are the same type of multi-dimensional players that OSU deploys. Where it starts to fall apart for Stanford is in the slot. Freshman Jshawn Frausto-Ramos saw more playing time than junior Jaden Slocum against Washington State but expect the Beavers to target whichever of the two is on the field.

Oregon State has been rolling out six wide receivers to varying degrees over the last four games, but its Irish and Velling that are most commonly found in the slot. Velling will likely draw the bigger Edwards from the safety position, leaving Fausto-Ramos on Irish. The OSU run game, and the focus Stanford will need to put on the Beavers top 3 receiving targets should provide Irish the opportunity to find space in the middle of the field.

RG #66 Grant Starck vs DL #94 Anthony Franklin

The offensive line has not missed a beat with Tanner Miller shifting over to center in place of the injured Jake Levengood. Much of that credit goes to Starck, who has stepped into Miller’s regular right guard position. Things did get a little sideways when Heneli Bloomfield missed some time in the Colorado game, but he is expected to be a full go against Stanford.

Franklin is part of the three-man rotation of interior defenders Stanford rolls out and has seen the most snaps of the group. Linebacker Gaethan Bernadel picks up most of the stats, but if Stanford is going to force Oregon State to throw when they don’t want to, that’s going to start with Franklin and the defensive line getting in the rushing lanes on 1st and 2nd down and replicating Colorado’s first half performance.

Beavers on Defense

Stanford runs a lot of plays (~70 per game), which is a compo of tempo and need to chase points late in games. QB Ashton Daniels is a 19-year-old sophomore and has been a big reason why the Cardinal offense has been productive. He played great games against Colorado (46-53 OT win after being down 29 at the half) and Washington (42-33 loss). Daniels has averaged 42 passing attempts in the last 4 games and is also willing and able to run the ball (18 carries for 81 yards against Washington is his season high).

Fellow QB Justin Lamson will come in as a Colletto-style running threat and leads the team in rushing attempts. Look for him in short yardage and goal-line situations.

CB#4 Jaden Robinson vs WR #13 Elic Ayomanor

Ayomanor had a breakout game against Colorado with 13 catches for 294 yards and 3 TDs in Stanford’s spectacular comeback win. He was averaging 5.2 targets per game before Colorado and has earned an average of 11 since. The sophomore has not had the yards after the catch he had against Colorado before or since but is easily the number one receiving threat for the Cardinal.

When a down game for Robinson consists of two receptions against on two targets for all of 33 yards, you know it's been a good season. Expect Robinson (who plays on both sides of the field) to keep a lid on Ayomanor and force the ball elsewhere to a thin set of pass catchers.

EDGE #8 Sione Lolohea vs LT #78 Luke Baklenko

Starting LT Fisher Anderson has been out since their UCLA game in late October, pushing the freshman Baklenko into blindside protection. He played well against Washington State, allowing just 1 pressure on 46 pass blocking snaps. That being said he has a grand total of 165 snaps in his career and is someone the defense will focus on. Even if Anderson returns to the lineup, he has been the 572nd graded offensive tackle out of 639 total in PFF’s metrics.

Andrew Chatfield Jr’s three sacks last week got a lot of the press, but it was Lolohea that led the Beavers with 8 pressures in the game against Colorado. He is 2nd it that metric to Chatfield over the course of the season and is also 2nd on the team with 15 stops in the run game. All four edge rushers should thrive in this game, and don't be surprised if some of Lolohea’s pressures turn into sacks this weekend.