Oregon State Football Preview: Week Six vs Stanford

In this file photo from 2019, OSU redshirt sophomore running back Calvin Tyler Jr. mentally prepares before matchup against Stanford on Oct. 12. Tyler had a career game last week against the Utah Utes, and will hope to help his team get back on track against the Stanford Cardinal on Dec. 12.

Brady Akins, Sports Editor

The 2020 college football regular season is rapidly approaching its finale, with the Oregon State Beavers set to take on the Stanford Cardinal on Saturday, Dec. 12 in the team’s penultimate game of the regular season.

After an up and down five-game stretch filled with both winning and losing streaks, the Beavers will head into their sixth game of the year with a 2-3 record, off the heels of a 30-24 loss the week before to the Utah Utes, one that snapped a run of two consecutive wins for Oregon State.

The Beavers’ opponent, the Cardinal, have followed a similar path to Oregon State in this condensed 2020 season. After beginning the year 0-2, with losses to the Oregon Ducks and the Colorado Buffaloes, Stanford has pulled off wins in their last two games. The first coming in the form of a one-point victory against the California Golden Bears, with their most recent being a 31-26 win over the Washington Huskies.

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But not only has Stanford’s team record looked similar to the Beavers, but the way they got to those wins was in a similar style to Oregon State. Their two-game winning streak has come in large part thanks to Austin Jones, the Cardinal’s sophomore running back who has been a heavy part of the game plan late in the season.

In Stanford’s last two games, Jones has combined for 52 carries and 223 yards on the ground, to go along with four touchdowns. Despite not being much of a big-play threat so far in 2020, with his longest carry on the season going for 17 yards, Jones has been a consistent runner, capable of wearing a defense down with repeated intermediate runs, averaging 4.5 yards per carry in his last outing. 

Of course, the run-heavy approach to the offense is something that the Beavers’ have found success with in recent weeks, and is something that they may need to rely on once again with the uncertain situation at quarterback. Oregon State’s starter under center at the beginning of the year, the redshirt junior Tristan Gebbia, has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a hamstring injury suffered in the Beavers’ win against Oregon. 

Gebbia’s status will now open the door for Chance Nolan, a new addition to the Oregon State roster who transferred from the junior college level in 2019. Nolan won’t be without Division 1 experience against Stanford, however, as the quarterback was given the start last week in the loss to Utah. 

Nolan had a Beavers debut filled with highs and lows, throwing an interception on his very first pass attempt for Oregon State, but eventually making up for it with a touchdown throw and 202 yards through the air, most of which came in the fourth quarter, where the Beavers were nearly able to make a comeback after trailing by as many as 20 points.

Making Nolan’s second start for Oregon State easier will be the return of Jermar Jefferson, the Beavers’ star running back who was held out of last week’s game against the Utes due to COVID-19 restrictions. Jefferson, despite missing last week’s game, remains tied as the PAC-12’s leader in rushing touchdowns with seven and ranks second in rushing yards in the conference with 675. Without the efforts of Jefferson, Oregon State managed only 133 rushing yards as a team against Utah, where Jefferson alone has matched that mark in his last three games.

But with Stanford coming off of one of their best offensive showings of the season, hitting 31 points and nearly 450 yards of total offense, the Beavers will need more than a good offense to come out on top. Specifically, Oregon State’s defense will need a strong day in the running game, after allowing 229 yards on the ground to Utah last week.

In their two wins of the season, the Cardinal have been powered by their running game, and returning to the form they showed against teams like Oregon and Cal in previous weeks, games where both teams were held under 200 yards on the ground, should be the top priority for Oregon State.

One of the players that might help the Beavers get there is Avery Roberts, the junior linebacker who is coming off of a career-best game against Utah where he finished with 21 tackles. Another strong outing from Roberts could help boost the Oregon State defense as a whole, and put them in a position where the Beavers’ offense can take over the game. 

Oregon State will look to get back on track this Saturday and bring their overall record to 3-3 in a home game against the Stanford Cardinal. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Return to The Daily Barometer in the coming days for more coverage of Beavers football.