Following a much-needed week off, No. 20 Stanford aims for its fifth straight victory Thursday in Corvallis against a re-energized Oregon State team under interim coach Cory Hall. The Beavers have dropped five in a row and will be hard-pressed to slow down Heisman Trophy hopeful Bryce Love, who leads the nation in rushing at 198.1 yards per game and has 18 carries of 30 yards or more.
Love has a remarkable 1,387 rushing yards through seven games despite carrying only once in the second half of Stanford’s 49-7 rout of Oregon on Oct. 14. Stanford’s offensive line has gone four straight games without allowing a sack while creating opportunities for quarterback Keller Chryst, who turned in one of his best games of the season against Oregon, throwing for 181 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. The Cardinal are tied for first in the Pac-12 North but need to avoid a letdown against Oregon State, which headed into its off week after playing one of its most competitive games of the season in a 36-33 loss to Colorado. “I felt that they fought hard, I felt that they showed a different side of Beaver football than I’ve seen since I’ve been here, and I couldn’t be happier for them,” Hall told reporters. “Times are changing.”
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Stanford -23
ABOUT STANFORD (5-2, 4-1 Pac-12): Love ranks second nationally with 200.9 all-purpose yards per game to lead the Cardinal, who have averaged 295 rushing yards with 12 touchdowns during their four-game winning streak. Linebacker Curtis Robinson had a team-high seven tackles against Oregon but the Cardinal run defense struggled again as the Ducks rushed for 276 yards. The Cardinal have been stronger in the secondary where safety Justin Reid (five) and cornerback Quenton Meeks (two) have combined for seven interceptions.
ABOUT OREGON STATE (1-6, 0-4): Hall took over for Gary Andersen on Oct. 8 and immediately placed a greater emphasis on the run game as Ryan Nall finished with 172 yards rushing and three touchdowns against Colorado. Junior wide receiver Seth Collins, who leads the team with 43.3 receiving yards per game, missed the contest because of an unspecified illness and could be out for the rest of the season. Senior linebacker Manase Hungalu has been a bright spot on defense with 59 total tackles, five for loss, 2.5 sacks, two interceptions and three quarterback hurries.
1. The Cardinal have won seven straight matchups against Oregon State and eight of the past nine.
2. Oregon State’s last Thursday night victory came against No. 1 USC on Sept. 25, 2008.
3. Stanford has won 16 of its past 17 games when scoring first.
PREDICTION: Stanford 31, Oregon State 17