THE BEST pass-rushing defense in the Pac-10 meets the best pass-protecting team in the Pac-10. And…
Game On: Oregon State vs. Stanford
KICKOFF: Saturday, 4:30 PT
SITE: Stanford Stadium, Palo Alto, Calif.
SERIES: Stanford leads 48-25-3 (last meeting, Oregon State 38-28 in 2009)
RECORDS: Oregon State 5-5, 4-3 Pac-10; Stanford 10-1, 7-1
RANKINGS AND POLLS: Stanford (6 BCS; 7 AP; 8 USA Today)
THE LINE: Stanford by 13.5
-- For Oregon State: Contain Stanford QB Andrew Luck. The defense has had problems with mobile quarterbacks this season and few are as able to run as Luck. He already has had three runs of 50 yards or more this season, even though he is primarily a pocket passer.
-- For Stanford: Keep TB Jacquizz Rodgers and DT Stephen Paea under control. Rodgers is the key to the Beavers' success on offense, he's rushed for 1,021 yards. Paea may well be the best defensive lineman in the Pac-10 and a first round NFL draft choice, and has the ability to disrupt opposing offenses.
-- Oregon State showed in its win over USC that it doesn't take overwhelming numbers to be successful as long as you're efficient. The Beavers scored on all six of its possessions that reached the red zone, with three field goals and three touchdowns against the Trojans. Good punting and a solid return game helped with field position, and the Beavers took advantage even with only 163 passing yards.
The big challenge for Oregon State against Stanford is pressuring QB Andrew Luck. Stanford has allowed only four sacks this season. The Beavers have 16 sacks in the past four games – they're now 10th in the nation with 29 total. Whether they can keep up that pressure figures to be crucial to limiting Stanford's offense.
Stanford's offense has been impressive all season, and it rebounded from its worst offensive showing in the Nov. 13 victory over Arizona State by scoring 48 points a week later at Cal, which had been outstanding on defense at home. The Cardinal ranks eighth nationally in scoring (40.5 ppg). QB Andrew Luck is coming off one of his best games (16-for-20, two TDs, no interceptions), and he has outstanding wide receivers at his disposal. Luck even adds a running dimension. The Cardinal's strength is its offensive line and its ability to overpower opponents with its running game. TB Stepfan Taylor is the team's leading rusher, but freshman Anthony Wilkerson has seen his playing time increase recently, and he may be the team's top running threat against the Beavers.
The Cardinal defense had some problems midway through the season but it has been outstanding recently, yielding just 44 points over the past four games, and seven of those points came with 15 seconds left against Cal with the Cardinal already leading 48-7. It is the improvement of Stanford's defense from last season that has made the Cardinal a Top-10 team. Stanford is not, however, particularly fast on defense and when opposing skill-position players get the ball in space, Stanford has some problems. But the Cardinal's strong pass rush has helped its pass defense considerably.
LB Keith Pankey (ankle) is doubtful, OT Michael Philipp (ankle) is questionable, FB Will Darkins (head) is probable, LB Tony Wilson (concussion) is probable.
WR Chris Owusu (undisclosed, questionable), QB Alex Loukas (leg doubtful).
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