Beware the Beaver Trap?

There is too much on the line, too much unfinished business. Surely the Cardinal has put last Saturday's glorious chaos at the Coliseum behind them and is laser-focused on beating the Beavers, right? Probably...but guest columnist Peter Chen is worried. Disaster can strike when least expected. We think this is some sort of sophisticated psychological double-jinxing mind-game, but you never know...

Beware the Beaver Trap?

The high-flying Stanford Cardinal is now 8-0, ranked #4 in the BCS polls after its heart-stopping triple-overtime 56-48 thriller over the bowl-banned Trojans of Southern California. This Saturday afternoon they will face the down, but dangerous Oregon State Beavers and roll into that contest as prohibitive 21-point favorites.


Yawn. Here comes another 35-point beatdown for the good guys, right?


Not so fast. Channeling my inner-"Teejers", I sense that Saturday's matchup in Corvallis has many of the earmarks of a classic college football "trap game".


I'm told that a "trap game" often refers to a roadie by a heavily-favored, usually highly-ranked team, sometimes occurring the week immediately following a high-profile, emotional win or preceding a highly anticipated matchup with a more prominent opponent. Once in a while, as with Stanford at Oregon State, it can involve both.


The potential "two-sided trap game" against OSU follows Stanford's most meaningful win of the season, a come-from-behind, come-from-behind-again, come-from-behind-in-OT victory in front of 93,000 mostly hostile fans in full voice at the venerable Los Angeles Coliseum.


This concern-causing contest precedes the November 12 showdown against the top-10 Oregon Ducks, they of the excessively varied Nike uniforms and the "vroom-vroom" team speed. Hard not to get distracted by the prospect of the GameDay trucks pulling up to Pac-12 Plaza in Palo Alto.


The before and after games bracket this Saturday afternoon's potential trap game. Under Coach Mike Riley, Oregon State has been remarkably tough to beat at Reser Stadium, where the Beavs have gone 52-19 since 2000. In particular, Reser has been a veritable house of horrors for the visiting Cardinal in recent years, with just one Stanford win in Corvallis since 1997. In 2005, under Coach Walt Harris, Stanford barely escaped with a 20-17 victory after the Beavers came up short on a last-second 52-yard field goal attempt that would have tied the game.

Add to that the almost always adverse playing conditions, which could well include temperatures 30 degrees colder than encountered in any other games to this point in the 2011 season, with likely low temps in the 40s and with some of the Northwest's signature early winter wind and rain thrown in.


Then factor in that this isn't the Beavers' first dam-building. The OSU media machine notes that the Beavs have upset 10, count'em, 10 top-25 teams since 2005, including an historic win over top-ranked USC in '08.


This year's Orange & Black bunch seems to have underachieved, with a 2-6 record. While Jacquizz Rodgers is now with the Atlanta Falcons, the ever-potent OSU offense returns his brother, the Glyn Milburn-esque James Rodgers who has generated over 6,000 all-purpose yards during his outstanding career. They also have QB Sean Mannion, who torched ASU with a 40-of-66 passing performance, the mellifluously named H-back, Joe Halahuni, and WR Markus Wheaton (88 receiving YPG).


I'm certainly not looking past OSU, and it is reasonable to expect that Shaw & Co. aren't either. A late-season letdown would be calamitous for the high-aspiring Cardinal.

Recommendation: Cautious optimism. Let's get the win and "flat-tail" it out of there.


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