STANFORD CARDINAL (6-1)
at OREGON STATE BEAVERS (6-1)
Kickoff: Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET
Line: Stanford -4, Total: 55
Things do not get any easier for No. 8 Stanford as it travels to Corvallis to take on the high-powered offensive attack of Oregon State on Saturday night.
Oregon State got off to a tough start this season after being upset FCS school Eastern Washington in the opener. However, behind the play of QB Sean Mannion, the Beavers have turned it around with six straight wins (4-2 ATS) and are a legitimate threat in the Pac-12. Last season, Oregon State almost pulled off the upset in Palo Alto, until Stanford came back from a nine-point deficit late in the third quarter to win 27-23. Running back Storm Woods had 94 rushing yards on 6.3 YPC in that game, and was able to consistently get to the second level of the defense. The Beavers will need that kind of balance again as they will be playing against a very difficult defense, who got back to form against UCLA last week. The Cardinal were all over Bruins star quarterback Brett Hundley from the very beginning of the day, never allowing him to get comfortable. They also shut down the Bruins rushing attack, allowing UCLA to gain just 74 yards on 27 carries (2.7 YPC). Stanford QB Kevin Hogan was big in the game last season, overcoming early interceptions to complete 22-of-29 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns. While he is not going to throw for all the yards Mannion does, Hogan does a great job of running the offense the way that head coach David Shaw wants him to. Luckily for Hogan, he has plenty of talented players on offense to help him out. In the past three seasons, Stanford is 14-5 ATS (74%) after an ATS win and 7-0 ATS on the road in the second half of the year. However, Oregon State is 33-14 ATS (70%) in October games and 19-8 ATS (70%) off two straight Pac-12 wins under Mike Riley.
Which team will prevail in this crucial Pac-12 clash? For the answer, connect to College Football Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 regular season and bowl season. The four experts are a combined 58% ATS (82-60-5) in college football Best Bets for the season, led by StatFox Gary who is 72% ATS (13-5-1) in college football Best Bets over the past six weeks and 64% ATS (14-8-1) this year. StatFox Brian is 9-3 ATS in the past two weeks and 61% ATS (20-13-1) in Best Bets this season, while StatFox Dave is 57% ATS (26-20-1) and StatFox Scott is 54% ATS (22-19-2) for yearly CFB Best Bets.
Stanford's Ty Montgomery is one of the most complete wide receivers in all of college football. At 6-foot-2 and nearly 220 pounds, Montgomery has great size to go along with his game-breaking speed. He is a very intelligent receiver (564 rec. yards, 5 TD), but also lethal in the return game with 633 yards on 18 kick returns (35.2 avg.) and 2 TD. One thing the Cardinal offense could use more of is big plays in the air attack, where they rank just 86th in the country with 209 passing YPG. Oregon State’s defense has struggled against athletic quarterbacks, so look for QB Kevin Hogan (1,405 pass yards, 8.8 YPA, 13 TD, 5 INT) to take a couple of chances deep with Montgomery. However, if the Cardinal are going to win, it is going to be with their defense stopping Mannion. On defense, Jordan Richards will play a huge role in stopping Oregon State’s offense. The junior safety intercepted UCLA QB Brett Hundley twice in last week’s game, and was all over the field with 10 tackles. The Cardinal are loaded at all three levels on defense, and are led by senior LB Shayne Skov (58 tackles, 3.5 sacks). The defensive line must get pressure on Mannion though, because if he is able to sit back in the pocket and find his receivers, then Stanford is in trouble.
Many people wrote off Oregon State after the season-opening 49-46 loss to Eastern Washington. However, head coach Mike Riley has done a terrific job of righting the ship, and now the Beavers are back in Rose Bowl contention. They rank No. 1 in the country in passing (442.1 yards per game) and ninth overall in scoring (44.1 points). While junior QB Sean Mannion is the biggest reason for this success with 2,992 passing yards on 69% completions, 9.0 YPA, 29 TD and just 3 INT, junior WR Brandin Cooks is also putting up insane numbers with 76 catches for 1,176 yards (15.5 avg.) and 12 touchdowns. Standing at just 5-foot-10, he is able to run away from defenders and allows Mannion to use his strong arm. The defense is a different story though, and that unit must improve if they want to be a true Pac-12 contender. Senior CB Rashaad Reynolds (24 tackles) will likely be matched up against Montgomery, and he has played terrific as of late. All four of his interceptions have come in the team’s past three games.