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College Football Predictions: Oregon State at Stanford Odds and Picks
by Alan Matthews - 11/6/2012

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Stanford Cardinal running back Stepfan Taylor

It sure looks like Oregon is practically unbeatable in the Pac-12, if not nationally, but if either Oregon State or Stanford has any hope of representing the North Division in the Pac-12 title game it can’t afford a loss in Saturday’s showdown.

Both the BCS No. 11 Beavers (7-1, 5-1) and No. 14 Cardinal (7-2, 5-1) still play the Ducks; Stanford visits Oregon on Nov. 17 and OSU hosts its archrival in the Civil War on Nov. 24. Actually, if Oregon State wins this game (its road finale) and at least plays Oregon close it could be in fine position for a BCS at-large bid because there’s no team worthy of that from the Pac-12 South. Stanford likely would be a longer shot for the bid because of the third overall loss.

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Oregon is the -600 Sportsbook.ag favorite to win the Pac-12, with Stanford at +800 and Oregon State +1200.

Oregon State at Stanford Betting Storylines

Both of these schools went to backup quarterbacks in last week’s game and both are expected to start again.

Stanford coach David Shaw turned to redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan for ineffective starter Josh Nunes in the first quarter, and Hogan led the Cardinal to a 48-0 win at Colorado, including six straight scoring drives after replacing Nunes (Stanford punted in his two series). Hogan completed 18-of-23 passes for 184 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions and rushed for 48 yards before giving way to Brett Nottingham in the fourth quarter.

Before he was benched, Nunes completed 3-of-5 passes for 23 yards; one of his passes should have been intercepted but was dropped. All Shaw would say afterward was that “you’ll see a whole lot of Kevin Hogan.”  Nunes has been very inconsistent this season and couldn’t even dent the nation’s worst defense, so it’s almost a lock Hogan starts.

Meanwhile, Oregon State turned back to junior Cody Vaz in last week’s 36-26 win over Arizona State. Vaz started a few games while starter Sean Mannion was hurt. Mannion returned for the Oct. 27 game at Washington but threw four picks in OSU’s 20-17 loss. It didn’t appear he was quite ready off knee surgery, so coach Mike Riley picked Vaz vs. the Sun Devils. He was only 14-for-33 vs. ASU but threw for three touchdowns and 267 yards.

Oregon State got starting receiver Markus Wheaton back last week off a concussion (he had 108 yards and two scores) but played without two other starters: running back Storm Woods and cornerback Jordan Poyer. Both are expected to go vs. Stanford. Woods is averaging 4.6 yards per carry with six scores, while Poyer, one of the best in the nation at his position, had played in 44 straight games and started 19 in a row before sitting. He leads the nation in interceptions (.71 per game) and returned one of them for a 49-yard touchdown against BYU. Poyer also returns punts.

Vaz will no doubt have to have a big game because Stanford ranks No. 1 in the nation in allowing just 55.8 yards per game – yes, better than Alabama. Last week, Colorado had minus-21 rushing yards. OSU can’t run much as it is, ranking No. 106 in the nation (114.5 ypg). Vaz will be under siege if he has to pass on third-and-long as Stanford has 17 combined sacks the past two games and leads the country at 4.33 per game. The Cardinal pass defense (268.3 ypg) is 10th in the Pac-12, but that’s misleading because some teams simply give up trying to run the ball.

Meanwhile, Stanford will look to pound Stepfan Taylor against OSU, which has the No. 5 rush defense (91.8 ypg). In Stanford’s two losses this year (at Washington, at Notre Dame) Taylor averaged only 3.6 yards per carry. If Hogan is in third-and-long situations, that won’t be a good thing. Opponents have converted on just 27-of-112 (24.1 percent) on third-down conversions this season vs. Oregon State, which is the second-best mark in the country.

OSU has lost the past two seasons to Stanford by a combined score of 76-13 and has dropped its past two at Stanford as well. Last season, the Cardinal’s Andrew Luck threw for three scores and Stanford outgained OSU 507-285 thanks largely to a 300-33 edge in rushing.

Oregon State at Stanford Betting Odds and Trends

On 5Dimes, Stanford is a 4.5-point favorite with the total at 45. Cardinal are -185 on the moneyline. OSU is 6-2 ATS and 3-5 “over/under”. Stanford is 5-4 ATS and 2-7 O/U.

The Beavers are 6-0-1 ATS vs. teams with a winning record. The Cardinal are 4-1 ATS in their past five home games vs. a team with a winning road record. The under is 4-1 in OSU’s past five games following an ATS win. The under is 5-0 in Stanford’s past five after a win. The under is 4-1 in the past five meetings at Stanford. The home team has covered in four of the past five.

Oregon State at Stanford Predictions and Football Picks

Let’s see, two inexperienced quarterbacks and two rushing defenses that don’t give an inch. Plus, two Top-20 national scoring defenses: No. 12 Stanford (16.56) and No. 19 OSU (18.13). Uh, yeah, I like the under. In fact, I like the total way more than the spread here. But I would lean toward OSU because I like its overall offensive talent better and that the defenses are close enough to be a near-wash. I also believe Hogan finds things just slightly tougher vs. OSU than vs. wretched Colorado.

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