The Stanford Cardinal head into Corvallis, Oregon this Saturday to face the Oregon State Beavers in a game that could very well be a blowout, but also has all the makings of an emotional letdown trap game. The Cardinal are coming off an emotionally draining 56-48 triple overtime victory over the USC Trojans. In two weeks they face the No. 8 Oregon Ducks in their biggest remaining game of the regular season.
In reality, Stanford should blow out Oregon State. The Beavers know they face a monumental battle on Saturday and it really would require a superhuman effort. At the same time, crazy things have happened the last two weeks, and would it be the most shocking thing in the world if Stanford had a bit of a letdown? If I were to make a prediction, I could see a slow start in the first quarter followed by the eventual steamrolling as the game wore on.
Stanford has numerous advantages over the Beavers, but rushing is the big difference. Oregon State is giving up 155.1 rushing yards per game and now faces a Stanford team that has rushed for 215.2 yards per game. The Beavers rank second in the league in passing defense, but it may not matter if Stepfan Taylor, Tyler Gaffney, Anthony Wilkerson and Jeremy Stewart are bulldozing their defenders.
Stanford is in the thick of the national title race and simply must continue winning games. They have played a very professional sort of football and have generally kept their heads on straight through this strong 2011 campaign. While Oregon provides the greater talent test, Oregon State will provide a significant test of the Cardinal's mental strength. They need to avoid overlooking a struggling Oregon State squad. All signs point to them taking the Beavers sufficiently seriously, but a crazy season always provides room for stunning upsets.