KVAL Sports predictions: Gameday showdown, Cardinal in Corvallis

KVAL Sports predictions: Gameday showdown, Cardinal in Corvallis


UCLA vs. OREGON

Tom WardTom Ward
 

The Bruins come into this one banged up, and with an offensive line dominated by inexperience. How well will freshman linemen, and Brett Hundley (who's just sophomore) deal with what should be the most raucous atmosphere we've seen at Autzen since last year's Stanford game?  Hundley struggled mightily against Stanford on the road, and against Utah in Salt Lake City, and I think he'll struggle again against the Ducks.  Oregon's offense will put up it's usual on the scoreboard--they're the first modern-era team to score 45 or more points in their first seven games--and the defense will get into the backfield, disrupting the Bruins.  Prediction: UCLA 24   Oregon 55

Craig LoperCraig Loper
 

This week’s hype has been all about Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and his Heisman hopes this season. This game could catapult him into even more Heisman-mania. I expect Mariota to continue his great 2013 campaign Saturday at Autzen. If Mariota continues to not turn the ball over, even a solid team like the Bruins don’t have a shot. The Oregon offense simply has too many weapons for UCLA to handle. Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner have become a great foundational running game for the Ducks, and with the return of De’Anthony, it’s just one more thing for the Bruins defense to worry about. Not to mention the UCLA offensive line is starting three true freshman against a freakishly athletic Ducks defensive line. This one stays close in the first half, but Oregon kicks it into gear in the second.
Prediction: UCLA 28   Oregon 45
Collin Harmon
Collin Harmon

It appears Vegas has more confidence in the Ducks than the computers that factor into the BCS standings. While Oregon appeared at number three in the BCS, they’re 23-point favorites over the 12th ranked Bruins. Brett Hundley and company come into the game averaging nearly 40 points per game, but they were held to just 10 last week in a loss at Stanford. Hundley appeared frustrated at times with the lack of plays he was able to make against the Cardinal defense. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu leads a talented Ducks secondary that can shut down Shaq Evans on the outside, and with a pass rush, it could be a long night for UCLA. The return of De’Anthony Thomas means one more weapon for a Ducks offense that has yet to be slowed this season, and I don’t see that changing this week. Oregon will move to 8-0 and jump Florida State in the BCS. Prediction: UCLA 38 Oregon 21

John FranchiJohn Franchi
 

Oregon faces what could be its toughest hurdle on the way to the Pac-12 championship when the Ducks host UCLA. The Ducks expect to head into this game with De’Anthony Thomas in their backfield. With Thomas returning from his ankle injury, the Ducks backfield adds another level of depth. Thomas rejoins Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner as part of Oregon’s 3-headed monster. The Ducks offense has hardly been challenged this season and they should put up strong numbers again, especially with Thomas in the backfield. The Oregon defense will face a challenge against a Bruin team that ranks fourth in the conference in total offense. The UCLA offense led by Brett Hundley resembles the Washington offense that the Ducks contained earlier this month. UCLA will keep this game close, but the Ducks will emerge victorious. Prediction: UCLA 31   Oregon 56

 


STANFORD VS. OREGON ST.

Tom WardTom Ward
 

 This one is tough, and certainly an agonizing pick to make.  On one hand, you've got the 'light it up' combination of Sean Mannion to Brandin Cooks, who did exactly that to the secondaries of Cal and Washington State.  But on the other hand, you've got a Stanford defense that limited Brett Hundley and the Bruins offense to just 266 total yards.  If the Cardinal front seven plays gap-control solid defense, and decides that instead of blitzing Sean Mannion, that they will just use an extra man in the secondary to limit Brandin Cooks' ability to make plays, Stanford will win this game.  Factor in an OSU defense that will be facing the most physical and talented offense of the season, and it's a Cardinal win. It will be entertaining, but Stanford survives. Prediction: Stanford 41 Oregon St. 38

Craig LoperCraig Loper
 

The first true test for the Beavers this season. This one is going to be exciting for a couple different reasons. First, Mike Riley’s teams have a good history of upsetting top-ranked teams at Reser Stadium (think USC). Second, the Cardinal has shown this season they do have a chink in their armor with a loss at Utah. What will be interesting to watch is if Sean Mannion and the passing attack can continue the streak they’ve been on. Stanford’s front seven (you’ve heard this before) is one of the best out there. If they can pressure Mannion, will he be able to get the ball to his playmaker Brandin Cooks? Can the rushing attack help OSU out at all? All these questions will be crucial to the game come Saturday. Ultimately, I think Mannion throws for another great game but it’s not quite enough to win at home.  Prediction: Stanford 38  Oregon St. 35
Collin Harmon
Collin Harmon

Oregon State hasn’t played in front of the home fans in nearly two months, so needless to say Reser will be rocking Saturday night with Stanford in town. The Cardinal come off their impressive win over UCLA, but I think the Beavers have a much better offense. This will be the first true test for Sean Mannion, but he’s been careful with the football all year long, and that will be a deciding factor in this game. Stanford’s offense has struggled much of this season and has been bailed out by Ty Montgomery’s kick returns. If the Beavers defense that has come to play the past few weeks, I like the Beavers in a nail-biter.  Prediction: Oregon St. 31  Stanford 27

John FranchiJohn Franchi

After feasting on teams near the bottom of the Pac-12, things get much tougher for the Oregon State Beavers. Number 6 Stanford invades Corvallis Saturday hoping to put a stop to Oregon State’s six game winning streak. The Beaver offense that has scored an average of 44 points per game, will meet a stingy Cardinal defense that is giving up barely 20 points per game. Something in the game has to give. Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks have electrified the Oregon State offense. Stanford’s pass defense ranks in the middle of the Pac-12. If the Beavers can protect their quarterback and give him time to find Cooks, Oregon State has a chance to pull off the upset. Reser Stadium will be hostile and let’s not forget about what happened when Stanford travelled to hostile Utah. The Cardinal lost that game. They will lose this one.
Prediction: Oregon St. 44  Stanford 41


THE STANDINGS

Last week, once again, the guys in the sports office showed their football expertise and picked both games correctly. John is still atop the overall standings, but Tom and Craig are right behind, and both have 15 points in the tiebreaker.

John Franchi
John Franchi

13-1
(14)

 

Tom Ward
Tom Ward
12-2
(15)

 

Craig Loper
Craig Loper
12-2
(15)

 

Collin Harmon
Collin Harmon
10-4
(11)

 

 

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