A Cali Classic

Campus Clash

(14) Stanford Cardinal at (4) USC Trojans

Stanford: Entering this new season of college football, there were so many questions surrounding David Shaw’s Stanford Cardinal and how’d they pan out this year. Last year was a down year for them but I didn’t see it as they quietly went 10-3 and finished third in the PAC-12 North. They kicked off their season with a dominating 62-7 win over the Rice Owls in Sydney, Australia in their opener and they showed they still have one of the best ground attacks in the nation along with one of the best offensive lines as well. Last year, their offense ranked 83rd from a scoring standpoint. However, with eight starters back from last year and the productive play of quarterback Keller Chryst, they feel they can improve offensively after struggling to throw the football last year. I have always liked the makeup of this football team. They’re gritty, they are physical at the line of scrimmage and Shaw has always run a pro style offense. They’ll look to show everyone on Saturday that they are still a team to watch in the conference with a battle against a familiar opponent.

USC: After everything, they experienced last year and coming back to win the Rose Bowl in January, the Trojans of Southern California entered this year with extremely high expectations and even bigger, playoff and national title hopes. On Saturday in their opener, I feel they looked at the opponent on paper and took them way too lightly and you just can’t do that because on any given Sunday or in this instance, Saturday, you can get the best efforts from any team and that’s exactly what they got from a Western Michigan Broncos team who gave them everything they could handle. They found themselves in a battle but found a way to get into a rhythm. The reason behind all the hype this year? Quarterback Sam Darnold and rightfully so because when he took over last year, he never looked back and he helped turn the Trojans into one of the more potent offenses in the country. He’ll be looking to improve from his opening game performance as completed 23 of 33 passes for 289 yards and two interceptions. When I saw the tape from their last game, their defense struggled to clamp down and stop the run. When the opportunities are there to make a tackle, you must take advantage of that. There’s a lot of work to do before their battle with Stanford on Saturday.

Stanford Player To Watch: Bryce Love– If in the Cardinal, I am watching the tape of USC’s last game every day until the game. The Trojans had trouble stopping the run and as a football team, you try your hardest to exploit the opposition’s weakness. If Western Michigan could run like they did on USC, what makes you think Stanford can’t? I look for Bryce to have a big time day and be used early and often to wear down that Trojan defensive front.

USC Player To Watch: Ronald Jones– At least we know Darnold has a nice ground attack to lean on. He’s shifty with the ability to cut back and turn on the burners once he bursts through an open hole. There were some question marks about their offensive line, but they did enough to open things up for Jones last week.

Final Analysis: When they met last year, Stanford punched USC in the mouth. But, let’s also remember that Sam Darnold wasn’t the man under center for the Trojans just yet. The biggest key for Stanford: Just play your brand of football which is owning the clock and Keller Chryst needs to hit his third down throws. For USC, they need to show the balance they did and they’ll need that all season long. The offense will be just fine as long as Jones is breaking free every once in a while.

Prediction: Stanford 31 USC 24