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Another Saturday has come and gone, and so too has another Stanford Cardinal victory. Stanford picked up their ninth win of the year in a 38-13 win over the Oregon State Beavers. The Cardinal undefeated streak is starting to bring with it a combined sense of inevitability and deep unease, but all in all it's a great time to be a Stanford fan.
Saturday's game was another patented example of the Cardinal allowing the game to stay close and competitive in the first half before breaking it open in the second. As the Andrew Luck Heisman Trophy campaign rolls along, it's time to check on his numbers.
Luck had a somewhat restrained game this week, and actually struggled a fair amount early on. He threw an early interception and had a couple other passes that could have easily been intercepted. After an early attempt to spread the field in the passing game, Stanford returned to their power rushing ways to take control of a game that was close early on. Luck was 20-for-30 and finished with 206 passing yards, three touchdowns and an interception. More importantly, Stanford remained undefeated, which might be a key part of the Andrew Luck Heisman campaign.
This week may have been without the sort of gaudy numbers the Luck Watch is accustomed to, but contributing to three of the five Stanford touchdowns shouldn't be overlooked. Of course, a win is a win, and on a tough, undefeated team in the top five of the national rankings, the field general will get a lot of the credit.
You can always keep the Andrew Luck train rolling at our Stanford blog, Rule Of Tree.
The close of Saturday's Stanford-Oregon State game can best be described as a rout, given how the Cardinal rolled over them for much of the second half. However, up until the latter part of the third quarter, the Beavers turned this game into a dogfight and had several opportunities to capture a lead. But much like we have seen from Stanford all season long, the Cardinal wore down Oregon State over the final 20 minutes of gametime and rolled to a 38-13 victory.
Stanford started extremely slow as they were shut out in the first quarter for the first time all season. Andrew Luck entered the game 0-2 in his only two games in the state of Oregon and he was struggling to get that first victory. Stanford climbed on top 14-0 in the second quarter behind strong rushing and appeared to ready roll. However, Oregon State was not going to go anywhere as they looked to continue their giant-killer reputation. The Beavers cut the lead in half on a Sean Mannion-James Rodgers connection and held Stanford to a field goal before the half. Stanford led 17-7 but the game was much closer than even that score might indicate.
The Beavers grabbed a third quarter touchdown to cut the lead to 17-13 but then missed the extra point. They forced a Stanford punt on the subsequent drive, but could not capitalize. OSU punted away and Stanford began to take control of the game. Stanford went to their power rushing ways, grabbing 44 yards on rushes and 16 yards on passes to get down to the Oregon State 27. Andrew Luck then connected with Stepfan Taylor on a 27-yard touchdown pass to give Stanford a 24-13 lead.
On the ensuing Oregon State possession, the Stanford defense made its presence felt. After a Mannion incompletion, Stanford recorded back-to-back sacks, with the second sack resulting in a fumble recovery by the Cardinal. Three plays later, Luck connected with Coby Fleener on a 14 yard touchdown pass to give Stanford a 31-13 lead. The Cardinal would add one more touchdown as Oregon State could nothing going with any consistency the rest of the game.
The big news of the day came on a pair of injuries. Stanford lost tight end Levine Toilolo early in the second quarter and wide receiver Chris Owusu late in the second quarter. Toilolo was taken into the locker room after taking a hit to the head. He returned to the sidelines in pads but did not play the rest of the game. Owusu suffered a scary hit to the head that resulted in a stretcher and ambulance coming onto the field. He suffered a concussion but had full range of motion following the hit.
The Cardinal now head into their biggest game of the year as they host the Oregon Ducks in a week. Oregon still has to play Washington tonight at 7:30pm PT. Barring an upset in Washington, Oregon will head to the Bay Area next week looking to battle for the top spot in the Pac-12. It is easily the biggest game on tap for next week.
Stanford Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck gets most of the publicity when it comes to the 2011 Stanford football team, but for much of his career he has also benefitted from a dominant rushing attack. Even when Luck struggles, the Cardinal running backs have done a great job leading the power rushing attack that former coach Jim Harbaugh installed and has since brought to the San Francisco 49ers.
The leader of the rushing attack is junior tailback Stepfan Taylor. Although Stanford does have numerous rushing options, Taylor is the workhorse that drives this offense. He has stepped up his game on a day in which Andrew Luck has struggled and has propelled the Cardinal to a 31-13 lead. Taylor has rushed 13 times for 95 yards and a touchdown, while adding in a pair of catches for 26 yards and a receiving touchdown.
The Stanford defense has been equally as important. The Cardinal offense is finally turning on the jets, but the defense did enough early on so that Stanford was not put in a position of panic by a possible early deficit. The defense has held Oregon State to 28 rushing yards and picked up a pair of key back-to-back sacks and a fumble recovery on a late third quarter Oregon State drive. Stanford had scored a touchdown to take a 24-13 lead and the defense went for the throat on the next drive. After an incomplete pass, Trent Murphy and Chase Thomas sacked Beavers QB Sean Mannion on back to back plays. Mannion fumbled on the second sack and Stanford quickly capitalized with a touchdown.
The Stanford Cardinal head into halftime in Corvallis, Oregon leading the Oregon State Beavers 17-7, but they have had to battle for that lead. The Beavers held the Cardinal scoreless in the first quarter for the first time this season and had several chances to cut into Stanford's lead in the second quarter. Andrew Luck has struggled in the first half, completing 11 of 19 passes for 76 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The rushing attack has keyed the offense, gaining 164 yards on 25 carries.
The big news of the first half was a pair of head injuries suffered by Stanford skill position players. Chris Owusu suffered a brutal hit after a reception and was placed on a stretcher and into an ambulance. If he did indeed suffer a concussion, it would be his third of the season and second in as many weeks. He will not be returning to this game and Stanford may have a decision to make about his availability for much of the rest of this season.
The other injury was suffered by tight end Levine Toilolo. He took a leg to the head on Jeremy Stewart's two yard rushing touchdown, but was able to walk off under his own power. He took a golf cart to the locker room but returned to the sideline still in pads just before the end of the first half. His availability for the second half is unknown at this point.
The Cardinal defense has stepped up big time once again. They have held Oregon State to 116 total yards and aside from the five play touchdown drive in the second quarter, Stanford's defense has held firm. They have also benefitted from a continued strong rushing attack. Stepfan Taylor leads the way with 56 yards on ten carries. Seven different players have rushed the ball, combining on a 6.6 yards per carry clip.
The Stanford Cardinal are currently leading the Oregon State Beavers 14-7, but the Cardinal are dealing with numerous injuries in the second quarter. Following Levine Toilolo taking a shot to the head early in the second quarter, wide receiver Chris Owusu took a big shot himself with 4:26 left in the second quarter. The game was stopped and Owusu was taken off the field on a stretcher following a big hit to the head.
Oregon State defensive back Jordan Poyer made the hit immediately after Owusu hauled in an Andrew Luck pass. Owusu caught the ball and went to turn upfield when Poyer dipped down and hit him. Owusu lost the ball and Poyer returned what appeared to be a fumble for a touchdown. However, the hit was deemed an illegal hit of targeting a defenseless receiver. The personal foul negated the fumble and the touchdown and Stanford regained possession.
Prior to today's game, Owusu had suffered two concussions this season and three in his career. He was coming off a concussion suffered in Stanford's triple-overtime victory over USC. The Cardinal will likely face a decision as to what they should do with Chris Owusu for the rest of the season. If this ended up being his third concussion of the season, the decision might not be all that difficult.
The Stanford Cardinal offense revolves as much around the tight ends as any other position. They will not have to figure out a way to move the ball with severe limitations at the position. A week after losing Zach Ertz for two weeks, Stanford has lost tight end Levine Toilolo after he took a leg to the head on Jeremy Stewart's rushing touchdown that gave Stanford a 7-0 lead.
As Stewart was rushing up the middle, Oregon State defensive end Dylan Wynn was blocked into the head of Toilolo. Wynn was spun around and his left leg hit Toilolo in the head. The Stanford tight end was able to walk off under his own power but was taken to the locker room. I would imagine he will get a concussion test given the hit to the head. I would also be surprised if he returns to the game, particularly if Stanford can build a sizable lead.
The Cardinal have a fairly diverse offensive attack but the tight ends have been key. Over the rest of this game we will likely see a bit more of the wide receivers mixed in to the passing attack.
Coming into this weekend's contest with the Oregon State Beavers, I found myself wondering whether the Stanford Cardinal might succumb to a potential let-down performance in Corvallis. Stanford was coming off a heart-pounding triple-overtime victory against the USC Trojans. Add in next week's BCS showdown with the Oregon Ducks and it would not be entirely shocking to see the Cardinal get tripped up. Oh, and Andrew Luck is 0-2 in his college career in the state of Oregon.
Well, one quarter in, you can call it a letdown or just emotionally drained from the week before, but Stanford has gotten themselves into a bit of a dogfight. The Cardinal just got on the board courtesy of a two-yard rushing touchdown by Jeremy Stewart and lead 7-0 early in the second quarter but were shut out in the first quarter for the first time this season.
Stanford came out passing early, but Andrew Luck has been a bit sluggish in the passing game. He is 4 of 8 for 28 yards with an interception. He threw the pick on a third down in which he was about to be sacked and was just trying to make something happen. The Cardinal defense stepped up to force an Oregon State punt after the pick and the Stanford defense has prevented the sluggish offensive start from being a serious problem.
As would be expected, Stanford has gone back to their rushing ways. They have now rushed 13 times for 105 yards and a touchdown, with seven different players getting a rushing attempt.
As the Stanford Cardinal prepare for a conference road test against the Oregon State Beavers, they will likely have talented wide receiver Chris Owusu at their disposal. Owusu is battling a concussion and was limited in practice throughout most of the week, but he is listed as probable for the game. Andrew Luck approves of this news.
Here is the final injury report for both teams, according to Ted Miller:
For the Beavers, the loss of both Stevenson and Bishop will hurt. Stevenson does not typically get a lot of carries, but he can be a load at the goal line. Bishop has hauled in 27 passes for 337 yards and his absence will be felt.
For more on Stanford, check out Rule of Tree.
We all know of Andrew Luck and Stepfan Taylor, but it is the Cardinal defense that needs to make improvements this week. They were continually gashed by the Trojans last week and the unit needs to improve if they hope to make a BCS bowl run.
For the Beavers, it is all about finding consistency on both sides of the ball. They will be heavy underdogs on Saturday and they will rely heavily on their home crowd to support their quest of an upset bid.
Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. locally in Corvallis.
TV Coverage: The game will be televised on a regional basis by ABC, with Carter Blackburn (play-by-play) and Brock Huard (analyst) calling the action.
Radio: KNBR 1050-AM in Stanford and the surrounding areas.
Weather Report: A chilly, rainy day is expected in Oregon. Temperatures will be in the 40's throughout the game and rain is in the forecast all weekend.
Never underestimate your opponent: that is the message this week for Stanford players.
Fourth ranked Stanford travels to Corvallis this weekend to take on Oregon State on Saturday, winners of just two games thus far this year, but aren't taking the Beavers lightly. Cardinal players know that there's been many a team that's overlooked a seemingly easy opponent and had it ruin an otherwise undefeated season. Andrew Luck will look to keep them headstrong and in the game, and he noted:
"Tough place to play. Definitely no fond memories. They're a very well coached, tough team with a great atmosphere. It's always tough to go into Corvallis. They put the beat down on us last time we were there, so we're expecting a fight."
Luck is referring to the last time the two teams met at Oregon State, where the Beavers won 38-28.
Stanford coach David Shaw also warned his team of not looking forward to next week's matchup with No. 6 Oregon, but also stressed that after last week's big win at USC, they can't just expect to waltz through this one. He said:
"It was a big game, it was an exciting game, it was one of the best games a lot of people have said they have seen in a while, but then the season is not over. We've talked all year about building. You're in a big game, you win a big game, it gets even bigger. So you can't win a big game and stop playing."
Notes that will make you jealous of Stanford's football program:
- Stanford has won 16 games in a row, the longest active streak in the country.
- If Stanford wins they'll go to 9-0 for the first time since 1952.
- Stanford has the sixth ranked rushing defense in the country. They are tops in the Pac-10 in total defense, rush defense, sacks per game, and points given up per game, at 17.0 per outing.
- Stanford has had only seven 3-and-outs all season. That is a truly ridiculous statistic.
- Stanford is 47-for-47 in the redzone this year. That is a truly more ridiculous statistic.
For more on the Cardinal, head over to Rule of Tree.
Andrew Luck has accomplished so much in his career at Stanford that it is tough to keep track of every coach who says something about him. The latest head coach to praise the star quarterback was Oregon State's head coach Mike Riley, and according to him, Luck has "proven it all" with the Cardinal.
Bob Clark of The Register-Guard has the story:
Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck leads the Pac-12 in passing efficiency, is climbing the career charts for the conference and a school that has a legacy of great passers in a number of statistical categories, and yet none of those numbers are what most impresses Oregon State coach Mike Riley.
"You start with the his record," Riley said, pointing to "the resurgence of Stanford football since he was recruited and since he took over.
"His won-loss record is really impressive."
In three years with Luck as the starting quarterback, Stanford has gone 28-5. While a good bit of that should be credited to former running back Toby Gerhart, what Luck has been able with the program is remarkable.
"He's not only a great passer ... but he's a very gifted athlete," Riley said. "He can run any style of offense. If you wanted to run the spread with him, he'd be really good at it."
On any short list of the best quarterbacks ever to play in the conference, Luck would have to be in the discussion, wouldn't he?
"He's just kind of proven it all," Riley said. "I'll go back to the record (because) the wins and losses are the bottom line.
Luck and his Heisman campaign are busy preparing for the Beavers. Oregon State will have their eyes set on the huge upset, but as Mike Riley knows, if the quarterback is even close to the top of his game, the Cardinal should come away victorious on Saturday.
As the Stanford Cardinal look to continue their march towards an undefeated season and a possible berth to the National Championship game, they'll be making a stop up in Corvallis this Saturday to take on the Oregon State Beavers. Although Stanford is heavily favored, they can't get complacent and start looking ahead to next week's meeting with the Oregon Ducks, so here are three keys to ensure a Cardinal victory this week.
Stanford's running game vs. Oregon State's defense:
Oregon State's rush defense is ranked 55th nationally out of the 120 FBS schools, meaning stopping the bruising Cardinal ground attack will be a problem. The Beavers also have a lot of trouble making plays behind the line of scrimmage, giving Stanford RB's even more time and room to work. When Stanford crowds the line with six or seven o-linemen, Oregon State is really going to struggle. If you thought these guys had big games against Washington, Stepfan Taylor and Tyler Gaffney could literally run over the competition this week.
Strong second half from Stanford:
Stanford has gotten some great wins on the road this year, but have had to come back in the second half because they still are yet to have a dominating first half of play away from the Farm. Quarterback Andrew Luck definitely doesn't have good memories of his last trip there, a stunning 38-28 loss at the hands of the Beavers, though I'm sure he'll be out for a little redemption this time around.
Stanford's offensive depth:
Tight ends are essential to the Cardinal offense, though Coby Fleener was injured in the first quarter against Arizona and Levine Toilolo has missed chunks of time with injuries as well. But the reason they are No. 4 in the Nation is the fact that they have unbelievable depth and are always ready to adjust. Stanford has more than 25 different groupings for their personel, with each one coming with it's own depth chart, so yeah, I think they're prepared.
For more on the Cardinal, head over to Rule of Tree.
Andrew Luck and the Stanford Cardinal managed to keep their BCS title hopes alive last week by pulling out a 56-48 triple overtime victory against the USC Trojans last week. As the season approaches its end, teams and analysts alike begin looking ahead to team finishes and bowl game implications. In his latest edition of the 2011 college football bowl projections, SB Nation's very own Bill Connelly predicts that Stanford will play Alabama for the BCS national title.
Connelly has the Cardinal remaining undefeated through the remainder of the season (13-0), including a victory in next week's big game against the Oregon Ducks. Stanford is projected to get by Oregon in a very tight game before running the table against the likes of Cal and Notre Dame.
Connelly projects that Alabama will defeat LSU this weekend and Oklahoma will defeat Oklahoma State in the final game of the season. The Cowboys pose the biggest threat to Stanford's title hopes right now. If both teams run the table and remain undefeated, Oklahoma State will likely take Stanford's spot in the title game.
The projections place Stanford as huge underdogs in the title game, giving Alabama a 93% chance of victory over the Cardinal. Those are overwhelming odds, but things rarely work out as scripted. Before Stanford can look ahead to the BCS title game, they will need to finish out the season with all wins. Stanford's biggest obstacle at this point appears to be next week's game against Oregon, the team that handed Stanford its lone loss of the season last year.
As bowl season approaches, check out the 2011 College Football Bowl Schedule.
Stanford Cardinal wide receiver Chris Owusu took a big hit this past Saturday against USC, but he does not see it as an obstacle to playing this coming weekend against the Oregon State Beavers. Owusu was checked out for a concussion following the brutal hit and was cleared to practice as it was a simply shoulder strain. Owusu has dealt with a host of injuries during his college career, including three concussions and two knee injuries.
Although Stanford is built around a power rushing attack, Chris Owusu has developed into a key aspect of the Cardinal offense. While the tight ends often make the big plays, Owusu has become the leading receiver with 33 receptions. He has hauled hauled in 370 yards and two touchdowns. His highlight play this past week was being on the receiving end of a 62-yard pass following a wildcat reverse flea flicker.
Oregon State currently ranks second in the Pac-12 in pass defense, giving up 215.2 yards per game. They will be facing the number three passing offense in Stanford. Owusu will be defended by some combination of junior cornerback Jordan Poyer or sophomore cornerback Rashaad Reynolds.
Owusu also does some kick return work as he has brought back eight of the Cardinal's 24 kick returns.
Stanford Cardinal tight end Zach Ertz sustained a lower leg injury during the opening kickoff of last week's 56-48 victory over the USC Trojans. Ertz will miss at least two weeks of playing time, according to a report by the San Francisco Gate.
The injury deals a big blow to an Andrew Luck-led Stanford offense that likes to use the tight end extensively. The Cardinal use several two- and three- tight end sets with Ertz, Coby Fleener and Levine Tiolobo. The loss of Ertz could prompt head coach David Shaw to use fullback Ryan Hevitt as a tight end during certain plays.
Ertz is averaging 38.5 yards per game and has three touchdowns on the season. He has further contributed to Stanford's offense with his blocking ability, a skill that won't be easy to replace in the coming weeks.
Stanford will have one week to adjust to the absence of Ertz before next week's big Pac-12 showdown against No. 6 Oregon. Expect the Cardinal to try out several different looks with their remaining two tight ends and Hevitt when they play Oregon State.
Andrew Luck and the Stanford Cardinal are coming off of a thrilling 56-48 triple-overtime victory over the USC Trojans and hope to avoid that type of a close encounter this week against the Oregon State Beavers. The oddsmakers predict that Stanford will return to its dominant Pac-12 ways with the opening line placing Stanford as 20.5-point favorites.
The 2-6 Beavers have struggled this season on both sides of the ball. Oregon State ranks 90th in offense with 23.0 points per game and 83rd in defense with 29.9 points given up per game. The Cardinal, meanwhile, rank third in the country in offense with 49.5 points per game and 13th in defense with 17.0 points surrendered per game.
Stanford has scored more than 37 points in every game this year, and that trend should continue on Saturday against Oregon State. Prior to the USC game, the Cardinal defense had not surrendered more than 21 points in any game and should hold the Beavers under that total. If both patterns hold on Saturday- which they should- Stanford is in prime position to cover the spread and notch another win before next week's big showdown against the Oregon Ducks.
We break down the potential emotional letdown Stanford could face when they travel to face the Oregon State Beavers. For more on the Stanford Cardinal, check out Rule Of Tree.
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