CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — In the midst of his Heisman campaign Bryce Love may — or may not — sit this one out.
Stanford’s running back tweaked an ankle against Oregon on Oct. 14 and is a game-time decision for the No. 20 Cardinal on Thursday night at Oregon State.
Love is the nation’s top running back, averaging 198.1 yards per game. He has 1,387 total yards this season and is averaging 10.27 yards per carry — both also national bests.
The junior human biology major has nine carries of at least 50 yards, more than anyone for an entire season since Melvin Gordon had 10 for Wisconsin in 2014. Love was picked as a midseason AP All-American.
Love ran for 147 yards and two touchdowns in Stanford’s 49-7 victory at home over the Ducks. A few days later, Stanford formally launched his Heisman campaign with the hashtag HeismanLove.
So it’s really no surprise that coach David Shaw is unconcerned about the lack of practice time Love has put in leading up to the game.
“If he can’t go, fine, he’ll go next week. When he’s out there, he’s going to get the ball,” Shaw said. “He’s played a lot of football for us the past 2 1/2 years. If it takes until game time for him to be ready to go, he’ll go out and play.”
Obviously, it’s better for the Beavers if Love watches from the sidelines.
Oregon State (1-6, 0-4 Pac-12) is ranked second-to-last in the Pac-12 for run defense, allowing an average of 200.1 yards a game. In the Beavers’ last game, a 36-33 loss at home to Colorado, Phillip Lindsay scored on a 74-yard run for the Buffaloes.
Interim Oregon State coach Cory Hall said Love definitely has his team’s attention — but so does the rest of the Cardinal (5-2, 4-1).
“The challenge for us this Thursday night is for us to be against Bryce Love and everyone else on that offense, and same thing with our offense on that talented defense.” Hall said. “At the end of the day it’s still football. I’m not singling out any one player, they have 10 other guys on that offense you have to account for.”
LOVE’S COUNTERPART: Oregon State’s Ryan Nall is coming off his best game of the season. He had 24 carries for 172 yards and three touchdowns against Colorado. Stanford inside linebacker Joey Alfieri went to Portland’s Jesuit High School and often played against Nall, who went to Central Catholic.
“It seems like we’ve played against each other since the third grade,” Alfieri said about Nall. “He’s definitely a challenge.”
CONNECTIONS: Speaking of Alfieri, his brother Mikey is a walk-on running back at Oregon State currently playing on the scout team. Their parents are alums. Dad Nick Alfieri played for the Beavers from 1983-87. So does that mean the Alfieri household will be divided on Thursday night? “I have no comment on that,” Joey said, laughing.
BEAVERS’ QUARTERBACKS: The Beavers got a scare when quarterback Darell Garretson briefly left the field during the Colorado game. Oregon State had already lost starter Jake Luton to injury earlier this season. Then they learned that junior receiver Seth Collins would be out indefinitely with health issues. Collins played quarterback for the Beavers his freshman year and was considered an option at the position should injuries pile up. So in response, the Beavers moved redshirt freshman Mason Moran from safety to quarterback.
AFTER ANDERSEN: The Beavers showed a spark in the loss to Colorado, which came five days after the school parted ways with coach Gary Andersen. Hall gave the team an impassioned postgame speech in the locker room saying the team had just begun its transformation.
“They’re an energized football team,” Shaw said. “They play hard, they play fast and they’ve had 1 1/2 weeks to get ready. There may be things we haven’t seen before and we’ll have to make adjustments. They played against Colorado with a lot of heart. From a coaching standpoint, that’s good to see.”
HISTORY: Stanford leads the all-time series against Oregon State 55-25-3, and currently has a seven-game winning streak over the Beavers.
AP freelancer Rick Eymer in Palo Alto, California, contributed to this report.
More AP college football coverage: http://collegefootball.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP—Top25