NCAAF Week 2: #14 Stanford @ #6 USC

USC led by 2017 Heisman candidate quarterback Sam Darnold hopes back on their track to reclaim the Pac-12 throne.

Not to be lost in the pain of a physical thumping to a rival, Bryce Love was a star of the night for the Cardinal. He lacked chemistry with every receiver but junior Deontay Burnett, missing multiple throws downfield on miscommunications, and he didn't throw a touchdown.

Stanford had last week off after opening the season in Australia the week before. The Trojans shrugged off a rusty start in their season opener against Western Michigan and went right to work at home against Stanford. Sam Darnold was efficient with his throws, but threw two interceptions.

According to oddsmakers at Bovada.lv, USC is favored at home in this game, as the Trojans are getting odds of -6 points against Stanford.

With a game of this magnitude coming up, is Stanford-USC finally a true rivalry?

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But from then on, USC's defense smothered Stanford, limiting them to 95 yards on the ground and 172 via air. Stanford stayed close on J.J. Arcega-Whiteside's TD catch with 6:41 left, but Jones' incredible second TD run capped a smooth 75-yard drive in USC's 11th consecutive win at the Coliseum.

"That two-headed monster is really carrying forth what Christian was", USC coach Clay Helton said.

Conversely, the Trojans offensive front paved such big holes for the team's ball carriers that it prompted praise from Stanford head coach David Shaw, the overseer of numerous best offensive lines in college football over the last half-decade.

The Trojans controlled both lines of scrimmage from start to finish. The Cardinal have four returning starters along the offensive line, and they looked dominant in Week 1. How will USC's front five hold up on Saturday night?

Keller Chryst is back at quarterback for Stanford after he underwent ACL surgery following the Sun Bowl. Last season, he threw 10 touchdown passes to two interceptions while splitting snaps with then-senior passer Ryan Burns. Junior Trenton Irwin is a steady option on the outside after grabbing 37 receptions in 2016.

The Trojans marched methodically to a touchdown on their first possession of the game, culminating in a 4-yard pass from Darnold to Steven Mitchell, who beat cornerback Holder in the back of the end zone. In the receiving end, Connor Wedington posted 82 yards in six catches while Cameron Scarlett added 56 yards in a catch.

Western Michigan found success by exploiting cutback lanes as outside linebackers Porter Gustin and Uchenna Nwosu, who played as defensive ends while USC used nickel personnel for almost the entire game, crashed inside and failed to hold the edge. Stanford became an outlier in its reliance on a more traditional offensive formation, use of huddle and building off defense; much of the rest of the Pac-12 adopted hurry-up, air-raid and spread looks.

It's important not to overreact to Week 1 results and performances.

That team statement was built on a mountain of statements at the individual level as the Trojans took responsibility for their at-times lackluster performance against Western Michigan.

The Broncos ran all over USC's defense. He came back and put on a show, justifying the observations of many in the media who called him a dark horse All-American candidate this offseason.

Stanford had gone 1-11 the year before, and Harbaugh began with three blowout losses in four games.

  • Leroy Wright