Will Beavs commit to the run vs. Stanford?

OREGON STATE is back on track. The OSU o-line is again playing nasty and the Beaver running game is moving ahead at a brisk pace. The Beaver D is coming off an outing where they showed signs of domination. All of that held true before the kickoff last Saturday. Three hours later, the world was once again flat. And now Stanford, a legit BCS title game contender, is coming to town.

Coming into last week's game, Utah couldn't the ball, and their QB was ripe for the taking. Utah didn't throw that much against OSU but they didn't have to, they blew past Oregon State in the first half on the ground. And for good measure, their passing wasn't half bad either.

The second half saw a considerably better defensive effort better but a 24-0 lead at the break, and the fact Utah's running back had 205 yards for the game – plus he had more carries (35) than the OSU running game managed in yards (32) – left Beaver fans scratching their heads.

Earlier this season, Oregon State pummeled Arizona. And then they laid an egg against BYU. The Beavers then dominated Washington State. And then they looked flatter than three day old Coca-Cola against Utah.

So just what the heck is going on here.

Well, if recent form holds true, at least they're due for an upswing this week – maybe they'll shock the pundits and give Stanford all they want and more.

But it certainly won't happen if Oregon State has Sean Mannion throw another 49 times as he did against Utah.

Mike Riley can talk all he wants about balance but when he and Danny Langsdorf go away from the run as quickly as they did against Utah, (and as they have most of the games this season), those words don't mean a lot.

OSU needs to stick to the run. Down 17-0, heck down 24-0, there was still plenty of time, as evidenced by OSU's mini-comeback.

But Oregon State wasted the third quarter, getting no points on their first two drives even as the Beaver D came to play. Indeed, the Beaver D in the second half pitched a shutout until 1:31 was left on the clock.

Mannion finished 27-for-49 for 231 yards. And those who had anointed him as having arrived after the WSU game were in for a bitter disappointment. He locked onto receivers, and threw repeatedly into trouble. Maybe if he would have had a running game threat, and if the o-line had provided adequate protection, it wouldn't have been so bad.

But it was. And now OSU faces Stanford. For all the Andrew Luck mania going on, and all of it's deserved, the beauty of Stanford's offense and what makes it an elite unit is the Cardinal's ability to run the ball. Oregon State shut down WSU's running attack but this is a different kettle of fish.

D-coordinator Mark Banker will need to show Stanford some looks they haven't seen before, and then the Beavs will have to execute as they haven't done all year if they want to make a game of this one.

And OSU needs to commit to balance on offense, not just talk about it.

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