The season is only two weeks old and already some of the dynamics of the early season are developing. Such is the situation at the two largest private institutions in the West: the University of Southern California Trojans and the Stanford Cardinal.
Although injuries can and will plague every team as the season moves along, #2 USC has had some on both sides of the ball (see related articles) that may have affected play, especially on defense. And a quarterback change at Stanford plus an unusually tepid defense has the #21 Cardinal sitting as a big question mark. But - still both teams are 2-0 heading into this huge conference matchup at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, California.
There's no more Andrew Luck quarterbacking the Cardinal as he's busy with the Indianapolis Colts. Instead, Josh Nunes is the new Stanford QB and he's done an adequate job so far. Their passing attack hasn't found the wide receivers yet, which may be of comfort to the Trojans who have some weaknesses in the secondary, especially at one of the corner spots opposite Nickell Robey.
The Cardinal running game has done okay with mainly star tailback Stepfan Taylor carrying the load. The USC run defense hasn't faced a good running attack yet however they've done well so far this year, holding opponents to 94 yards per game. If players like defensive lineman Wes Horton and middle linebacker Lamar Dawson can play real minutes, the Trojan defense will be tougher to score on.
The USC offense will have no such problems. Quarterback Matt Barkley has thrown 11 touchdown passes in just two games and the running attack finally got going helped by Silas Redd's first 100 yard game. Against Syracuse, the Trojans gained 258 yards rushing for the game. Stanford hasn't gone up against a strong offense though they've shown to have a good run defense - yet, in contrast they've given up nearly 300 yards per game in passing yards.
These two teams have played nail-biter after nail-biter and nothing so far says this game will be any different in 2012. The Stanford Cardinal aren't going to overwhelm too many teams whereas the USC Trojans have the ability to blowout any team they face - but they know each other so very well, that a lopsided result isn't likely to happen. Expect a back-and-forth tussle with USC having the slight edge. Final predicted score: USC 34 - Stanford 27.
After this big gridiron battle, the Cardinal go on the road to play the Washington Huskies before a national television audience on a Thursday night, while the Trojans will host their other Northern California rival, the California Golden Bears.
This USC/Stanford contest will be played before a national television audience on Saturday night September 15 on FOX at 4:30PM Pacific Time.
Sources - Stanford University, University of Southern California
Daryle lived in Los Angeles Ca. most of his life and has been a longtime fan of USC and the Pac-12, having closely followed the Trojans since he was just a youngster. Fight On!