MATCHUP: Beavers at Cardinal

NOT SURPRISINGLY, WHEN considering the Beavs' season opener, Oregon State has the more explosive offense with playmakers all over the field. But Stanford has plenty of players with experience returning, giving them an edge on the defensive side of the ball. BF.C takes a closer look at Week One, position by position.



Four of the five positions on the Cardinal offensive line will be manned by seniors who have combined for 72 career starts.  The star of the line is center Alex Fletcher (6-3, 298) who is on the Outland Trophy and Rimington Award Watch Lists.  But the unit helped generate just 19.5 ppg, good for last in the Pac-10.  On the Beaver side of the ball, seniors Andy Levitre (6-3, 317), who has a team high 22 straight starts, and Jeremy Perry (6-2, 338), when healthy, are the stars as both are Outland and Lombardi Trophy candidates, but new starters at center, left guard and right tackle are causes for concern.


Senior Tavita Pritchard (97 of 194, 1,114, 5 TDS) has seven starts under his belt and helped down No.1 USC last year in his first career start.  Junior Lyle Moevao (77 of 147, 876, 2 TDS) hasn't lost as a starter with a perfect 4-0 record.  Each quarterback will benefit from their playing time in 2007, but it is still to be determined who is the better quarterback.


A three deep backfield for the Cardinal with the experienced Anthony Kimble (115 for 509, 8 TDs), Toby Gerhart, who both battled injuries a year ago, and Jeremy Stewart.  The three combined for 992 yards and nine touchdowns.  Neither Ryan McCants, Jeremy Francis or Jacquizz Rodgers have played a down in the Pac-10 and thus the more experienced Cardinal backfield gets the nod.

Stanford returns both of their tight ends in Jim Dray (9 for 116, 1 TD) and Austin Gunder (10 for 86, 2 TDs), but the Men in Black are four deep with Howard Croom (20 for 188, 3 TDS) and Gabe Miller (8 for 124, 1 TD) set for break out years.

With the explosive Sammie Stroughter (in '06) back along with game proven players James Rodgers (19 for 208, 1 TD), Darrell Catchings (33 for 386, 1 TD), Shane Morales (16 for 115) and Chris Johnson (7 for 93) the Beavers have a unit that can hurt opposing offenses every which way.  Stanford lost three of its top four receivers returning junior Richard Sherman who led the team in receiving yardage (651) and touchdowns (4).




Five players with starting experience return.  The unit averaged 3.08 sacks a game in 2007, good for third in the Pac-10.  Senior left end Pannel Eghoh (6-6, 270) is the one to keep your eye on as he has a potent blend of speed and size.  He has led Stanford in tackles the last two seasons.  The Beavers boast senior Victor Butler (10.5 sacks), a Ted Hendricks Award candidate, who has blazing speed ranking third in the nation in tackles for loss yardage in '07.  A handful of backups with plenty of playing experience including defensive tackle Pernell Booth (11 tackles) and defensive end Slade Norris (9 sacks) are sliding into full time roles.  OSU has a solid system, but experience wins out once again with the Cardinal having the edge.


Preseason Bronko Nagurski and Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List nominee Clinton Snyder (96 tackles) leads the Cardinal group with returning starters senior Pat Maynor (88 tackles) and sophomore Chike Amajoyi (47 tackles) joining him on the field.  Oregon State boasts Keaton Kristick (15 tackles), Bryant Cornell (13 tackles) and Keith Pankey (10 tackles, 1 INT) who have seen plenty of playing time, but are all in their first year as starters.  Experience wins out again with Stanford getting the edge.


Both teams field an experienced secondary with Oregon State returning longtime starters Brandon Hughes (57 tackles, 2 INTS, 12 breakups), a Lott Trophy and Jim Thorpe Award candidate, and Keenan Lewis (15 tackles, 3 INTS) at the corners.  Former walk-on and part time starter a year ago Greg Laybourn (49 tackles, 2 INTS) and a first time starter, either Suaesi Tuimaunei or Austin Hall, will man the safety positions.  One of the top safeties in the nation, Bo McNally, patrols the defensive backfield where he nabbed a Pac-10 high 114 tackles last season.  Returning players Wopamo Osaisai (26-19-45), Austin Yancy (36-13-49)
and Kris Evans (27-13-40) round out the starting secondary.  If Al Afalava, who is suspended for the game, was in the lineup the edge would go to the Beavs, but with him out it is a push.

S. Teams COMMENTS S. Teams

Both teams are breaking in a new kicker and punter.




Playing at home for the first game of the year is always a plus and head coach Jim Harbaugh has his team believing something good is happening in Palo Alto.  But, Mike Riley also has the trust and confidence of his players.  OSU has also been road warriors in the Bay Area winning their last seven matchups, including the last three in Stanford Stadium and the last six of seven in the series.


Oregon State 27, Stanford 17

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