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Times reporter Bob Condotta keeps the news coming about the Montlake Dawgs.

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August 28, 2008 10:01 AM

Tonight's pick

Posted by Bob Condotta

We have actual real, live Pac-10 football tonight, and it's an intriguing matchup --- Oregon State at Stanford.

For my Pac-10 picks this year, I will calculate them both straight up (meaning simply if I got the winner right) and against the spread (did I also win when taking into account the Las Vegas line?)

The Beavers are three-point favorites tonight over the Cardinal in Palo Alto, and I always love home underdogs when I think there's a reason.

And I think there are some reasons tonight.

For one thing, OSU is always a slow starting team --- it has lost its road opener straight up each of the last five years, or the entire portion of Mike Riley's second tenure with the team.

For another, the Beavers are missing two key players tonight --- guard Jeremy Perry and safety Al Afalava (the guy who leveled Jake Locker last year). Here's a scouting report and injury report on the game, noting that Stanford also has a couple guys out, though I think OSU's losses are greater in nature.

Stanford also has more experience, including nine starters back on defense and 16 overall, to just 10 for the Beavers (nine if you throw out Afalava --- Perry missed most of last season with injury, as well).

Maybe we make too much of returning starters, but early in the season, it's a good place to begin an evaluation of a team, and the experience edge definitely favors the Cardinal in this one. As I've written before, I think Stanford's defense could be one of the most improved units in the Pac-10 this season, and with OSU having to find some new answers on offense, I think the Cardinal should be able to stay in this one. The key will be whether Stanford's offense can make enough plays. Here's betting that the home field advantage helps in that quest and the Cardinal starts off 1-0 for the first time since 2005.

STANFORD 24, OREGON STATE 20.

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