OSU vs. Stanford: Who has the edge on O?

STANFORD IS A 13-POINT favorite over the Beavs on Saturday (ESPN2, 12:30 p.m.) The offensive position by position breakdown, however, indicates a far closer spread.

Sean Mannion isn't tearing it up like he did last year but he's been coming on of late and is still throwing for 263 ypg. But he has thrown just seven TD passes against five interceptions this season. The key here, and probably to the entire game as well, is simple: If OSU gives Mannion a good pocket enough of the time, he'll do nicely and OSU wins. But if Stanford gets the kind of pressure USC did on Mannion, it will be ugly. Mannion becomes a very different QB when he feels pressure, and it has a cumulative effect to where he starts feeling the pressure before it gets there. Mannion needs just 315 yards to set the Pac-12's career passing record but it's hard to see him getting it this week against a very good Stanford D.

Kevin Hogan hasn't been the same guy with his offensive line struggling. But he's missed some throws all on his own, too. He's completing 62.4 percent of his passes but that percentage has really taken a dive the last three weeks, with Hogan operating at a 54 percent clip. Last week against Arizona State was his worst performance of the season, going 19-for-39 and having a serious case of happy feet in the second half.
Edge: Oregon State

Offensive Line:
In recent years past, Stanford has boasted the top o-line in the conference. Not so this season. With only one returning starter, the Cardinal has been unable to reload, allowing 15 sacks already this season (No. 73 nationally).

The Beavs have had their share of struggles too but have made slow, steady improvement in recent games. But OSU will start Dustin Stanton at right tackle, a converted 270-pound tight end in place of the injured Gavin Andrews. Garrett Weinreich has not made enough progress back from his injury to start at guard over Roman Sapolu at left guard and Isaac Seumalo is out again this week and likely to redshirt.
Edge: Even

Running Back:
Oregon State is (maybe?) committed to running the ball again. The Beavs rushed 40 times (46 when including sacks) against Utah last week, while throwing 37 passes. Terron Ward and Storm Woods are averaging 5.0 and 5.6 ypc this season, respectively. Woods suffered a right knee injury against the Utes, and Riley said Thursday that he's questionable for Saturday's matchup. So look for Ward and Chris Brown, or a combination of Brown/Damien Haskins to shoulder the load.

Stanford's running backs aren't getting the yards, tough- or otherwise, this season. They rank 95th nationally, something that would have been deemed near-impossible by the pundits back in August. ASU came into the Stanford game having allowed more than 200 rushing yards four straight weeks but the Cardinal run game picked up just 76 hashes. Barry Sanders Jr. looked like heir apparent earlier this season but has all but disappeared since.
Edge: Oregon State

Wide Receiver/Tight Ends:
Stanford's group of Ty Montgomery, Michael Rector, Francis Owusu, Devon Cajuste and Jordan Pratt is impressive. But receiver production is dependent on the offensive line and the quarterback, and the Cardinal ranks No. 10 in the Pac-12 this season with 235 passing yards per game. Montgomery is the bell cow here, and he is also a very dangerous return man. The matchup between he and corner Steven Nelson figures to be great theater.

OSU just loss Richard Mullaney, their No. 2 receiving option behind Victor Bolden, possibly for the rest of the year to a broken elbow. The good news is Stanford doesn't have much familiarity with redshirt freshmen Hunter Jarmon and Jordan Villamin, OSU's slotman and split end, respectively The big surprise this season has been that while TEs Caleb Smith and Connor Hamlett have proven reliable, they haven't broken out the way many envisioned.
Edge: Stanford

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