Keys To The Game: OSU vs. Stanford

THE BEST pass-rushing defense in the Pac-10 meets the best pass-protecting team in the Pac-10. And two teams at opposite ends of the bowl berth spectrum line up in a game critical to both -- Stanford hopes to cling to their BCS dreams, while the Beavers are fighting for bowl eligibility. Here's what it will come down to…

The key matchup in this game will be Oregon State's front seven on D against Stanford's offensive line and quarterback.

The Beavers lead the Pac 10 in sacks per game with 2.9, while Stanford is tops in sacks allowed – they've surrendered just four sacks over 11 games.

Stanford's o-line has been spectacular at protecting Andrew Luck but Luck also deserves a lot of the credit with his quick release, smart decisions and impressive running ability .

Stanford's pro-style offense is without Toby Gerhart this season, but the Cardinal offense is arguably more dangerous… and inarguably more balanced in Luck's second season at the controls. Still, this is a pro-style offense, and that bodes well matchup-wise with a Mark Banker coached defense.

THE BEAVERS FACE a disciplined and well-coached Stanford defense on the other side of the ball. Mike Riley remarked earlier this week Stanford is, impressively, "always in position."

Their 3-4 scheme is designed to prevent big plays on the edge, but is vulnerable to running between the tackles. And it's not a particularly frightening pass rush that Ryan Katz will face, and that's important.

For an OSU offensive line long on technique but short on physicality, facing a smaller 3-4 defense will make getting a push up front a more attainable goal. Let's get to the Keys..

1 – Discipline on the d-line. Luck isn't a running quarterback in the strict sense of the word – he may only rush 3 times in a game, but it's often for big yards. He's a phenomenal athlete. The OSU defensive line will have to work hard to maintain lane integrity when they rush the passer, but still find a way to get pressure. A tall order to be sure, and Banker may dial up more corner blitzes.

2 – Be determined, offensive line. For Oregon State to win this ballgame, quite simply they are going to have to limit Stanford's chances to score. One key way to accomplish that is simply to keep the football out of Andrew Luck's hands. Get a push, run the ball between the tackles, keep Ryan Katz clean – it all starts up front.

3 – Be there at the finish. For perhaps the first time all season, the Beavers showed a killer instinct and played 60 minutes of football last Saturday against the Trojans. That has to continue against Stanford. The way to beat Stanford is to just keep coming at them. Stanford started off their game with Oregon putting on a clinic, but Oregon hung in and finished. OSU will need to do the same – it will take a complete game.

Grading last week's Keys:
1 – Find the Heart. Four of the first six touches put the ball in Jacquizz Rodgers' hands. And Quizz rewarded Danny Langsdorf by rolling up 100 rushing yards by the end of the third quarter, finishing with 128 ground hashes and 43 yards receiving. Grade: A+

2 – Find the Ball. A 65 yard pick-six by Jordan Poyer. A forced fumble by Stephen Paea. Done and done – that's how you do it. Bonus points for not turning the ball over as well. Grade: A

3 – Find The Alarm Clock. The Beavers didn't come out and score right away, but the defense was wide awake, coming up with a key stop on fourth down when Lance Mitchell stuffed Marc Tyler short. And Poyer's second quarter pick returned to the house ignited the offense. At the break, the Beavers led 20-0. Grade: A-

Get well soon, James Rodgers. Send your comments, questions and outraged claims of holding by the Beaver secondary to

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