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Stanford and USC Preview

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Week 2 battle between two of the Pac-12’s big boys

NCAA Football: Stanford at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

After a week where the Pac-12 Conference went undefeated, we are guaranteed the conference will not be afforded such a luxury this upcoming weekend. Stanford and USC will tangle in the L.A. Coliseum on Saturday.

Both teams will come into this week two showdown without a loss. Stanford went to Australia a couple of weeks ago and destroyed Rice 62-7. USC had to put in some extra work, but eventually put away a pesky Western Michigan team 49-31.

This week both teams will be put to the test. You can expect an enormous effort from both teams. Both teams do have something to prove.

Stanford had a cakewalk of a game in Australia where starters weren’t even in the game during the second half of play. Rice didn’t provide much in really determining just how good this year’s version of the Cardinal will be. Stanford certainly impressed by putting 62 points on the board, but will they be able to put anything close to that on the board against a much hyped USC team?

NCAA Football: Western Michigan at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Stanford beat down the Trojans last season 27-10, but Sam Darnold wasn’t the main guy under center for USC yet. Stanford now has the chance to show that it has the defense to counterattack the special talent that is Sam Darnold.

The Stanford Cardinal has always been different in the Pac-12 since Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw have been at the helm of the program. Stanford uses a balanced offensive attack to control the clock and wear down it’s opponents. The Cardinal will be looking to do just that against the Trojans on Saturday.

Bryce Love, running back, for the Cardinal will be a key component to the Cardinal attack. In the game against Rice Love ran for 180 yards on only 13 attempts, which included a 62 yard run. Love also added one touchdown against Rice.

Now, lets not pretend that Rice was a quality opponent because they were not. In fact, Rice has one of the worst run defenses in the country.

This game against USC will provide a really good barometer as to whether the run game and offensive line will be of any quality this season. I believe it will be because David Shaw won’t let it slide into oblivion.

Another key to the Stanford attack will be how well quarterback Keller Chryst performs. In my opinion, as long as Chryst manages the game for the Cardinal and converts on 3rd down Stanford should be in this game.

Stanford isn’t going to be intimidated by the surroundings at all. If the run game is going well and the Cardinal is owning the clock like they enjoy doing then a victory will be within their grasp.

NCAA Football: Rice at Stanford Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

USC won their game last week against Western Michigan, but struggled in putting away the Broncos until late in the game. If the struggle continues against a better opponent then the outcome won’t be as pleasant.

Sam Darnold did throw a couple of interceptions last week, but he is still Sam Darnold. I think he gets in the film room, figures out what he needs to do better, and makes the necessary adjustments to have a better game. Not that his stats from the Western Michigan game were horrendous. Darnold was 23-33, 289 yards, and completed 69% of his throws. Not bad stats at all, but Darnold does not throw multiple interceptions. That’s what stood out to everybody at the game or watching the game.

The key for the Trojans will be whether or not the O-line will be able to pave the way against Stanford like they did against Western Michigan. Stanford presents a much better defensive line than Western Michigan did.

Ronald Jones (Rojo) who led the Trojans in rushing against the Broncos with 159 yards on 18 attempts and added three touchdowns will certainly be looking to do the same thing against the Cardinal. The Trojans need Rojo Overall, the Trojans had 232 yards in their last game.

If Jones can get a few big runs against the Stanford defense, it’ll make for an easier day for Sam Darnold.

Once the running game is going for USC, it’ll loosen the coverage up on the outside for Darnold to take advantage of.

At the end of the day, this should turn out to be a good game between two pretty good teams. As always, running the ball and defense will be the key aspects to the game on the Saturday.

I am going to say that Stanford comes out with a 34-24 win. I believe at this point in the season, the Cardinal have a better defense. They will be able to make stops more often and keep the Trojan running attack under control. Bryce Love and the offensive line of Stanford will wear down the Trojans, control the clock, and get a hard fought win in the Coliseum.