After three games, Oregon State is starting to take on the defining characteristics of a Gary Andersen-coached team. The Beavers feature a stifling defense and a stout run game. How will it translate into Pac-12 play? No. 21 Stanford should offer a good test for that question.
The Cardinal have dominated Oregon State in recent seasons. Stanford has won five straight games in the series – the Cardinal's longest winning streak over the Beavers since claiming six consecutive victories from 1990-95. Their average margin of victory in those five games has been 19.8 points per contest.
Stanford could be ripe for the upset with senior quarterback Kevin Hogan battling a left ankle injury. Hogan injured his ankle in the second half against USC last week and is a game-time decision against Oregon State.
Stanford at Oregon State
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET (Friday)
TV: Fox Sports 1
Spread: Stanford -15.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Tight End U is back
Stanford's offense traditionally features a talented tight end who can move the chains with similar efficiency of a speedy running back. The Cardinal may have found their latest gem at that position. Austin Hooper had a breakout game in Stanford's 41-31 upset victory over USC last weekend. Hooper tallied 79 yards on four receptions – highlighted by a 16-yard touchdown catch. The Cardinal will need another big game from Hooper if Hogan isn't ready to go.
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2. Making a lasting mark
Storm Barrs-Woods is on the verge of joining the Oregon State record books. Barrs-Woods needs only 13 receiving yards to become just the second player in school history to accumulate at least 2,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving during his career. Jacquizz Rodgers was the first player to do it for the Beavers. Barrs-Woods has already rushed for 2,410 career yards. He can also become just the fourth Oregon State player to tally 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards joining Rodgers, Pat Chaffey (1986, '88-89) and James Rodgers (2007-11).
3. Defensive battle brewing?
Neither team is likely to light up the scoreboard on Friday night. Oregon State and Stanford both rank among the top three teams in the Pac-12 in total defense. The Beavers have allowed just 278.7 yards per game through three games. The Cardinal are not that far behind, allowing 312.7 yards per game in their three contests. Oregon State's defense has been especially stingy on third down. The Beavers have allowed opponents to convert just 7-of-39 third downs. That 18 percent conversion rate leads the Pac-12 and ranks second in the nation.
Oregon State has a history of upsetting ranked Pac-12 opponents in its home stadium. Stanford appears vulnerable to such a loss with the status of its starting quarterback in question. The odds are still long for the Beavers though. Oregon State did not fare well against Michigan – a team that features a run-oriented offense with a physical defense much like the Cardinal. The Beavers will beat a Pac-12 team they aren't supposed to beat at some point this season, but Stanford likely won't be it.
Prediction: Stanford 24, Oregon State 13
— Written by John Coon,who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports