Stanford Cardinal Face Oregon State Beavers In Corvallis

PALO ALTO, CA - OCTOBER 14: Bryce Love
PALO ALTO, CA - OCTOBER 14: Bryce Love /

The Stanford Cardinal return from a bye week to begin the second of half play with a Thursday night game against the Oregon State Beavers.

Two weeks ago, the Stanford Cardinal were on the outside of the Pac-12 North Division race looking in. With the inconsistency of Pac-12 play though, Stanford now sits on top of the North Division at 5-2 (4-1 Pac-12).

Coming out on top of the division will be a challenge though, as the Washington schools remain on the schedule.

Stanford did not look to be all that formidable after suffering consecutive losses to USC and San Diego State early in the season. And the loss to the Aztecs in particular, raised questions about how the Cardinal would fair against conference opponents,

Thanks in large part to running back, Bryce Love, the Cardinal have now won four-straight games as both the offense and the defense have played solid football.

The power of Love has no doubt been the spark that has ignited the Cardinal offense with his long runs.

Love only needed the first quarter against Oregon to make his presence felt, breaking the 100-yard rushing mark and two touchdowns in the opening fifteen minutes.

He actually broke that mark in under five minutes of the opening frame and would finish with 147 yards rushing in Stanford’s 49-7 dismantling of Oregon.

Success for Love has been the offensive line play setting the edges. Since being inserted as a starter, Walker Little has provided gaps and blocks for the Cardinal running backs, allowing them to gain significant yards.

Stanford Cardinal Football
Stanford Cardinal Football /

Stanford Cardinal Football

On the defensive side of the ball, the Cardinal have cleaned up their mistakes and have made life difficult for opposing offenses. Oregon looked to take advantage in the first half after starters Harrison Phillips and Peter Kalambayi missed the first half. Both were ejected in the game against Utah for targeting penalties.

With the two being the glue that held the Cardinal defense, the Ducks hoped to strike early.

But with Oregon using a third-string quarterback and Royce Freeman providing the only offense on the ground, Stanford had no problem.

The Ducks could not find any rhythm after their first touchdown and failed to capitalize on a golden opportunity.

A week off perhaps came at a good time as Love did not play much in the second half against Oregon.

Love suffered an ankle injury in the second half, and David Shaw elected to keep him on the sidelines rather than risk further injury. Stanford had victory in hand by the third quarter against Oregon and the risk to Love was not worth taking.

Health should not be a concern this week, and Love expects to be ready. Stanford is going up against an Oregon State team that has seen better days.

Mike Riley quietly built up the football program at Oregon State — despite the University of Oregon reaping the rewards of Rose Bowl and national championship appearances. The Oregon State team improved each season under Riley and hoped to become conference contenders.

But Riley surprisingly bolted for Nebraska, sending Oregon State back to square one. Gary Andersen took over as head coach and could not replicate the success the program enjoyed under Riley.

Recently, the Beavers announced the school and Coach Andersen had parted ways. Under Andersen, the Beavers did not win a game away from home and just could not compete against conference opponents.

His lone accomplishment that Oregon State fans are grateful for is snapping the losing streak against Oregon last season in the Civil War.

After an uninspiring win over Portland State at home in their second game of the year, Oregon State has lost five-straight. The team appeared to respond in their last game against Colorado with Coach Andersen no longer on the sidelines.

Unfortunately, the Beavers were on the wrong side of the scoreboard in a 36-33 defeat to the Buffaloes.

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Darell Garretson replaced Jake Luton at quarterback after Luton went down with an injury. Garretson kept the Beavers moving against the Buffaloes but threw an interception that impacted the game down the stretch.

In the game, Oregon State did not punt until the third quarter.

On the ground, Ryan Nall leads the rushing attack. Against Colorado, he rushed for 172 yards and three touchdowns.

Thomas Tyner could be a possible X-factor for the Beavers against the Cardinal. The former Oregon Duck played well against Stanford in the past but has not played since health forced him to retire from football medically.

He returned this season to Oregon State but has not been the once-dominant running he’d been with the Ducks previously.

Jordan Villamin and Timmy Hernandez are the primary receivers on offense. Garretson will be going up against a strong Stanford secondary which is living up to expectations as the conference’s best. Quenton Meeks and Justin Reid have a combined eight interceptions and can make plays at the line.

Coach Shaw had both K.J. Costello and Keller Chryst play against Oregon with success. The Cardinal offense saw a big performance from JJ Arcega-Whiteside with two touchdowns against the Ducks.

Stanford must get the passing game going to allow Love to break off big runs down the field.

Oregon State cannot be taken lightly as the team is known as the “Giant Killers” — especially on Thursdays. In the past, the Beavers have shocked ranked opponents, killing any possibility of them reaching the big stage. The last time Oregon State pulled off the feat was in 2008 at home when they beat USC.

Next: Stanford Cardinal Travel to Face Utah Utes

Stanford is ready for what will be a daunting task in the hope of coming away on top of the Pac-12 North Division. The Cardinal cannot afford to look ahead, or the Beavers could win their first conference game of the season.