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Stanford Looks to Stay Undefeated in PAC-10

Betting Line is Even

10/10/09

Stanford has been one of the surprises of this college football season. Stanford is 4-1 on the year with their lone loss coming against Wake Forest. Ever since that loss Stanford has looked like a new team with impressive victories over a Washington team who upset USC and an undefeated UCLA team. They have put themselves in a great position to win the PAC 10 and are in control of their own destiny. If Stanford is going to contend for the Pac 10 title and a spot in the Rose Bowl they need to keep their mind on the business at hand and take care of business with games like this Saturday against a lesser opponent in Oregon State.

With big games against Oregon, California, and USC still on the schedule they canít afford to let their guard down. Oregon State is coming into this game 3-2 off an impressive victory over an Arizona State team that gave Georgia all they wanted. Stanford needs to be on their A game if they want to keep their Rose Bowl dreams alive.

THE KEY MATCHUP

Stanfordís Rushing Attack vs. Oregon Stateís Rush Defense


This game will be won or lost where football is supposed to be decided, In the trenches. Stanfordís rushing attack is one of the best in the whole country. They are rated 12th nationally rushing for 222 yards per game. Stanford has found their workhorse in Senior Toby Gerhart, and he is the key to their success. He has rushed for over 100 yards in every single game this year except against Wake Forest which was Stanfordís lone loss. It was also the only game where Toby Gerhart had less than 20 carries. So basically the moral of the story is getting Toby Gerhart the ball. In 5 games this year he is averaging 130 yards per game, and already has 8 TDs. Throw in Stanfordís QB Andrew Luck who is also a rushing threat and this Stanford rushing game is going to give any defense in the Pac 10 problems.

The good news for Oregon State fans is that their Beavers are ranked 3rd in the Pac 10 in rushing defense allowing just 87 yards per game, so somethingís got to give. This is the right matchup for this Beaver defense. Their two losses this year have come at the hands of teams who like to throw the ball. Their pass defense is 9th in the Pac 10 allowing 285 yards per game. This Stanford team wants to run the ball early and often to open up the play action game for their QB. QB Andrew Luck is a redshirt freshman who lacks experience and is not a drop back passer. He needs to have the play action pass working for him to be successful, so if Oregon State is able to stack the box and stop the run, and force Stanford and QB Andrew Luck to beat them with his arm they will have a good chance to pull the upset.

THE FINAL VERDICT

This Stanford team has been very impressive this year. Coach Jim Harbaugh has his team and fans excited about the future of Stanford football. They still might be a year or two away from being a Pac 10 contender year in and year out, but I believe Coach Harbaugh is the man for the job to get this program to that point. They are very dangerous with their rushing attack, and when a team can control the line of scrimmage they control the game. Expect Stanford to be able to rush the ball even though this Oregon State defense is very good against the run, and QB Andrew Luck will be able to make plays with his arm when necessary because of the play action pass.

Stanford fits into one of our favorite categories from a handicapping perspective. A hungry team that hasn't won in years. They haven't had a winning record since 2001. But now they have a taste of winning. PAC 10 observers saw this coming as Harbaugh has done a fine job in this being his 3rd year at the helm. With the line "pick", all we're asking for here is a straight up win, which we think Stanford will do. Stanford pk over Oregon State.

 

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