There can be no hangover

All year long Mike Riley has preached that the Men in Black must take the season one game at a time. Forget about the Civil War in two weeks, forget about the missed opportunities last week – it's all about the school with the worst mascot in college football.

"It is truly one of those times where we can't look back," Riley said. "there can be no hangover, it has to be our best preparation of the year for this game."

Riley has talked with his team about what they need to do to become bowl-eligible, but urged them to focus on Stanford and use their performance against the number one team in the country as motivation for Saturday's game.

"We played well, but we didn't play our best," said Riley who is 2-1 versus Stanford while at OSU. "So we've got room for improvement and we've got a tough opponent. But the motivation can be that we did do some good things and we can build on that."

Winning at Stanford won't be easy. The Cardinal sport a 4-5 record but have lost three games by nine points and could easily be 7-2. Stanford also has an effective passing game and a dangerous defense that shows many different fronts.

"They've been tremendously competitive and very impressive, Riley said. "I think offensively, they're running the ball well. They're physical. They've had a very efficient passing game.

"Defensively, they're athletic. They play a little different style of defense with that 3-4 than what we're used to seeing, so they have that uniqueness about them in this conference that's special and, I think, a good thing for them."

Riley is equally concerned about all areas of the game. The offensive line must pick up the different blitz packages, the special teams players must protect the punter (Stanford has blocked six kicks this year), and the defensive backs must not back down from the big and physical receivers.

One of those big and physical receivers is tight end Alex Smith (6-5, 255) who is one of the top tight ends in the nation. Smith leads the team with 49 catches for 644 yards and three touchdowns. Smith will be a big part of the offense regardless of weather quarterbacks Trent Edwards or T.C. Ostrander start.

Edwards has started all nine contest this season, but has been replaced in the second half the past two weeks after injuring his left shoulder against UCLA. Ostrander has played in four games this year, mostly in mop up time, but has been impressive when in the game. Unfortunately for Ostrander the orange and black defense has feasted on young quarterbacks this year and Ostrander could be in for long night.

Defensive end Bill Swancutt has been dominating as of late as he has racked up 27 tackles, nine for loss, while adding 6.5 sacks in the last four games. He man handled USC's Sam Baker and hopes to the same with Stanford's Jon Cochran.

Buddy Teevens and company will be occupied with trying to keep Swancutt in check while Mike Riley and company will be hard at work trying to keep Stanford out of the Beaver backfield. The offensive line will to adjust quickly from playing 300 pound defensive linemen to swift 210 pound linebackers.

"Instead of all the time facing somebody who's 300 pounds, you're going to be facing sometimes, as you pass protect, an athletic linebacker," Riley said of Stanford's 3-4 defense. "And that guy's not going to run over you, but he's going to have some movement that you may not be as used to, so that's a factor.

"I coached the 3-4 defense in Canada, and we were the only team - just like Stanford - in the league that ran it and we gave people fits so I don't necessarily like playing against it."

The atmosphere in Stanford Stadium will be low key and exactly the opposite from last week's game in Reser. Oregon State has proven they can win on the road this year and Riley does not foresee playing an away game as being a crucial factor. If the players are focused, the team will even their record at 5-5.

The Beavers have not won three consecutive Pac-10 road games since 2000, and prior to that not since 1967. If the Beavers can win in Palo Alto and Oregon can defeat UCLA in Eugene the Civil War will be for bragging rights and the bigger bowl game, but that is looking to far ahead.

"No matter what, when we get to that point it will be exciting," Riley said. "If that's one of the residuals, then that's a big deal - there's no getting away from that. I'll go back to my original point - that part of it won't be a residual unless we win."

Kickoff is at 2:00 p.m. and the game can be heard live over the 28-station Beaver Sports Network.

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