When the University of Southern California Trojans open the 2012 season, they will likely be the #1 ranked team in the nation. The Stanford Cardinal are seen as a probable Top 25 team to start the upcoming year. This third game of the season in Palo Alto, California, will start the Pac-12 Conference schedule off in big fashion.
USC will already have under its belt a home opener against Hawaii and then a long road trip east to New Jersey to play Syracuse. Stanford will be hosting their third home game in-a-row at Stanford Stadium when the Trojans come calling on Saturday September 15.
The Trojans will likely have 2011 on their minds when they play their rivals to the north. With Andrew Luck at the helm, the Cardinal beat USC in a thrilling triple-overtime affair after Luck led a late game tying score in regulation. Luck is a pro now and that is the major trouble spot for the Cardinal heading into 2012. By the way, the Trojans lost their first road game last season in a conference opener versus Arizona State. There's a lot to atone for at USC, going forward.
Both teams are expected to be 2-0 heading into this Pac-12 opener. Depth will be Stanford's strength. Their front seven looks good on defense but the secondary does not. If Trojan quarterback and leading Heisman Trophy candidate Matt Barkley gets hot with his great tandem of receivers in Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, the Cardinal defensive backfield could be in trouble.
Stanford O versus Trojan D
The Stanford offense actually looks pretty good … except for the quarterback position. Stepfan Taylor is as good as any running back in the Pac-12 (some think he might be a Heisman candidate) and whoever is the starting quarterback will have plenty of quality receivers to throw to. And that just may be where this game will be decided - the Cardinal offense versus the USC defense.
The Trojans defense hasn't been all that good over the last few years. But, the USC defense is improved with their secondary, arguably their strongest unit. The Trojan linebacking corps may be the most talented unit on defense though they are young. So it's a battle of the trenches with Stanford's running game against the USC front seven ... or more importantly the front four. It might come down to how well the Trojan defensive line handles the Cardinal running attack.
If Stanford's defense can hold their own and limit USC's aerial assault, while the offense controls the gridiron with their strong running game, then the Cardinal have a chance at a victory.
But there are too many ifs for Stanford plus the Trojans won't be looking past this game. If depth problems become an issue in 2012 for USC, it certainly won't be in the third game of the year and therefore the Trojans should handle this game by a couple touchdowns because of all their offensive firepower.
It will be USC's third straight network telecast with the prior two on FOX and ABC. The Trojan Cardinal game will be broadcast live on FOX at 4:30 PM 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!