Se­niors can put sea­son back on track with win

The Mercury News - - Sports - By Harold Gut­mann Cor­re­spon­dent

STAN­FORD >> After four losses in five games — in­clud­ing back-to-back de­feats against Wash­ing­ton State and Wash­ing­ton that ended its chances of win­ning the Pac-12 North — Stan­ford has a chance to get back on track when it hosts Ore­gon State on Satur­day in its fi­nal home game of the sea­son.

The Car­di­nal (5-4, 3-3 Pac-12) is a 24-point fa­vorite against the Beavers (2-7, 1-5), who won at Colorado in over­time but have lost all of their other con­fer­ence games by at least 17 points.

“My goal is to play our best foot­ball, which we have not done for any stretch of time this sea­son,” Stan­ford coach David Shaw said. “That’s where the goal for me starts and stops. If we can play 60 min­utes of foot­ball like we have a quar­ter here and a quar­terand-a-half there, then we’ll fin­ish out the sea­son in great fash­ion.”

Here are three things to watch: POINTS GA­LORE >> Run­ning back Bryce Love is still hob­bled and lead­ing re­ceiver JJ Arcega-White­side, who is tied for sec­ond in the coun­try with 11 re­ceiv­ing touch­downs, will al­most cer­tainly sit out to­day’s game be­cause of an ap­par­ent an­kle in­jury. But if there was ever a good time to be miss­ing weapons on of­fense, this might be it. The Beavers have al­lowed at least 34 points to ev­ery FBS op­po­nent they have faced this sea­son.

Over­all, Ore­gon State is 127th among 129 teams in points al­lowed (44.8) and 128th in yards al­lowed (536.9).

Arcega-White­side would be a big loss, es­pe­cially in the red zone. But K.J. Costello, who is av­er­ag­ing 320.5 yards pass­ing over his last four games, still has plenty of tar­gets.

Kaden Smith, whom Shaw called “po­ten­tially the best all-around tight end in Amer­ica,” leads the na­tion in re­ceiv­ing yards by a tight end (601) while show­ing his ver­sa­til­ity by lin­ing up out­side, in the seam and on the line, while Tren­ton Ir­win has proved his worth as a pos­ses­sion re­ceiver.

Ex­pect Conor Wed­ing­ton to start in place of Arcega-White­side, and Osiris St. Brown and Michael Wil­son to see more ac­tion.

NO GIMME >> Though Stan­ford is a pro­hib­i­tive fa­vorite, a win isn’t guar­an­teed. The Car­di­nal was about an 18-point fa­vorite in last sea­son’s meet­ing, but needed a 3-yard touch­down pass with 20 sec­onds re­main­ing to es­cape Cor­val­lis with a 15-14 win.

“They’ve got kids that play hard and with heart,” Shaw said. “We saw that last year. We won on the score­board, and they kicked our butts all over the field.”

This year, the Beavers at­tack is led by fresh­man run­ning back Jer­mar Jef­fer­son, who has rushed for 1,034 yards, tied for sev­enth in the FBS. Stan­ford has faced two other run­ning backs among the FBS lead­ers in rush­ing yards per game this sea­son, with mixed re­sults. Ari­zona State’s Eno Ben­jamin was held to 38 yards in 11 car­ries, 85 yards be­low his av­er­age, but Utah’s Zack Moss had 160 yards and two touch­downs in 20 car­ries.

Ore­gon State will also have quar­ter­back Jake Lu­ton, who started last week for the first time since the sea­son opener and com­pleted 31 of 45 passes for 301 yards against USC. The Beavers have scored 258 points this sea­son (28.7 points per game), al­ready sur­pass­ing last sea­son’s to­tal of 248.

SE­NIOR DAY >> This will be the fi­nal home game for a group that in­cludes Love, Ir­win, cen­ter Jesse Bur­kett, line­backer Bobby Ok­ereke and cor­ner Ali­jah Holder.

“It’s go­ing to be one of those things where you’ve put all that work in with your boys, and it’s one last time to just go out on that field and play for each other,” Ir­win said. “It’s go­ing to be sur­real. I think there’s go­ing to be some emo­tions that I can’t de­scribe or even feel yet, but it’s go­ing to be fun.”

Per­haps the emo­tions of the day will help Stan­ford with some­thing that has been plagu­ing it all sea­son: slow starts. The Car­di­nal has been outscored 69-28 in the first quar­ter. It trailed 21-0 at half­time against Wash­ing­ton last week in a game it even­tu­ally lost 27-23.

THEARON W. HEN­DER­SON — GETTY IMAGES

Stan­ford’s ver­sa­tile Kaden Smith is the lead­ing tight end in col­lege foot­ball with 601 re­ceiv­ing yards.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.