Bob Stoll of Dr. Bob Sports is one of the most seasoned, successful sports handicappers around. He was one of the first to use advanced analytics in sports handicapping after studying statistics and finance at U.C. Berkeley. You can find his historical college football performance here, and you can subscribe to his service here.
His Strong Opinions have a success rate of about 53.7% since 1999. You can find a Strong Opinion for free below. He has agreed to share some of his lengthy, from-every-angle game previews here.
Strong Opinion – Oregon State (+14 ½) 17 STANFORD 26
My math model would favor Stanford by 14 ½ points using all games without any adjustments but Cardinal head coach David Shaw made a mistake in changing starting quarterbacks and Oregon State’s quarterbacking situation could be better thanks to an injury to ineffective starter Darell Garretson.
Stanford’s original starting quarterback Ryan Burns was averaging only 5.6 yards per pass play but he also had faced a tough schedule of teams that would allow just 5.3 yppp to an average quarterback.
Backup Keller Chryst saw some action and was really horrible but Shaw decided to make the change at quarterback last week and Stanford managed to win at Arizona 34-10 despite Chryst completing just 14 of 30 passes and averaging a pathetic 2.4 yards per pass play against a worse than average Arizona pass defense.
Chryst is averaging 2.4 yppp on his 54 pass plays this season against teams that would allow 5.8 yppp to an average quarterback and it appears as if he’ll be the starter again this week. Stanford will be able to run the ball well against Oregon State (the math projects 7.1 yards per running play) but having Chryst at quarterback supplies value and I expect him to struggle again as Oregon State has a better than average pass defense.
Oregon State’s offense has been great running the ball all season (213 yards at 6.4 yards per rushing play) but Garretson was horrible in the passing game at just 3.5 yppp. Garretson and backup Conor Blount (3.8 yppp) are both hurt and #3 QB Marcus McMarylon has been the most effective of the 3 Beavers’ quarterbacks, as he’s averaged 6.9 yards on his 76 pass plays, including 319 yards on 40 pass plays in his start last week in their 31-35 loss to Washington State.
I don’t expect McMarylon to have much success against a very good Stanford pass defense (just 4.3 yppp projected) but Ryan Nall (7.2 yards per rush) and Victor Bolden (324 rushing yards at 14.7 ypr on fly sweeps) should have good success running the ball against a mediocre Cardinal run defense (5.3 yprp allowed to teams that would average 5.3 yprp against an average defensive team).
Basically, both teams should be able to run the ball well and both quarterbacks should struggle. Stanford will likely run the ball even better than Oregon State will and the Cardinal have great special teams, but it’s not enough to justify a two touchdown spread. I’ll consider Oregon State a Strong Opinion at +14 points or more and I’d take the Beavers in a 2-Star Best Bet if the line gets up to +17 or more.