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Stanford vs. Oregon State preview: Old-school game could decide bowl picture

The Stanford Cardinal and the Oregon State Beavers clash in a physical game that will help decide not only the Pac-12 North, but the conference's bowl berths.

Doug Pensinger

The Stanford Cardinal hosts the Oregon State Beavers with second place on the line. The Oregon Ducks still must play each team to clear up the Pac-12 North, but Saturday's matchup will allude to which team will play in which bowl.

Much has to do with where the Ducks end up, be it national title game or Rose Bowl, but the battle for what is likely second place will allude to the bowl future of both the Beavers and Cardinal.

Smash-mouth football will be the theme for two strong defensive teams.

So which offense gets the most out of its quarterback play could be key. The Beavers (7-1) recently replaced Sean Mannion with Cody Vaz at quarterback, and the Cardinal (7-2) likewise replaced Josh Nunes with the more mobile Kevin Hogan.

The run game will help each of the young starters. Stanford's Stepfan Taylor is 53 yards shy of the 1,000 mark on the year and Oregon State will give heavy doses of touches to Storm Woods, if healthy, or Terron Ward, who went for 146 yards on the ground last week in a 36-26 win against Arizona State.

Both teams will use the run game to set up play action.

Stanford will favor tight ends Levine Toilolo and Zach Ertz, while Oregon State will look to speedy receivers Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks, both of whom are knocking on the 1,000-yard mark in receiving yards this season.