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#6 USC hosts conference rival #14 Stanford Saturday
By: Staff Writer - StatFox
Published: 9/5/2017  at  4:57:00 PM
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STANFORD CARDINAL (0-0)
at USC TROJANS (0-0)

L.A. Memorial Stadium – Los Angeles, CA
Kickoff: Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET
Line: USC -6.5, Total: 56.0

#14 Stanford will be hoping to pull off a huge road upset over Sam Darnold and #6 USC on Saturday.

The Cardinal opened their season with a dominant victory over Rice, as Stanford won that game 62-7 as a 23.5-point favorite. The team racked up 556 yards of total offense in that one and also held Rice to just 241. This meeting with USC will not be as easy, though. The Trojans have CFP aspirations this season and they boast some of the biggest names in college football this season. USC did, however, struggle in the opening week, as the Trojans only won by 18 as a 28-point home favorite against Western Michigan. The game was actually tied at 28-28 late in the fourth quarter, but the Trojans eventually pulled away late. They’ll need to get themselves together and find a way to look ahead to this meeting with the Cardinal, as both USC and Stanford are hoping to win the Pac-12 this season and this game will have serious implications late in the year. Stanford has gotten the best of USC over the past few years, as the Cardinal are 3-0 both SU and ATS versus the Trojans over the past three seasons. Also favoring Stanford is the fact that road underdogs that just gained 525 or more total yards in their previous game and that also returned eight or more offensive starters (including their starting QB) are 40-14 ATS in the first month of the season over the past 10 years.

Stanford fans were worried about how the team would replace the production of Christian McCaffrey, but RB Bryce Love looked just fine in the team’s opening week meeting with Rice. Love rushed for 180 yards and a touchdown on only 13 carries in that game and will now look to gash a USC defense that looked extremely vulnerable in a close game against Western Michigan last week. The Cardinal will also allow QB Keller Chryst to take some chances in this one, as he just might be the best signal caller they’ve had under center since Andrew Luck was in town. Chryst was 14-for-24 for 253 yards and two touchdowns against Rice last week and did not look too rusty after suffering a season-ending knee injury late last year. As long as he doesn’t make too many costly mistakes, Stanford will be more than satisfied with him. As for this Cardinal defense, this unit was one of the nation’s best a year ago and should be excellent this year as well. Stanford allowed only 20.2 PPG last year (17th in FBS) and it wouldn’t be too surprising if the team was even better there this year. In this game, however, the Cardinal must be ready for an all-out aerial attack from USC. The Trojans have one of the best quarterbacks in the nation and will want to take chances down the field.

USC had a ton of trouble in the opener against Western Michigan, but the team got the win and must do everything it can to forget about that one. This meeting with Stanford is far too important for the Trojans to dwell on anything. One guy that certainly needs to be better this week is QB Sam Darnold. Darnold has been hyped up as next year’s first overall pick in the NFL Draft, but he was just 23-for-33 for 289 yards with no passing touchdowns and a lousy two interceptions last game. He’s going to need to be a lot more accurate on Saturday or things could get ugly. One thing he’d be wise to do is locate WR Deontay Burnett more. Burnett had seven catches for 142 yards against Western Michigan and he seems to always make things happen when Darnold looks his way. The Trojans could also lean more on the ground game, as both RBs Ronald Jones and Stephen Carr were excellent last game. The two of them combined to rush for 228 yards and five touchdowns against Western Michigan and both guys are absolutely explosive in the open field. On defense, USC will be focused on stopping Bryce Love in this one. Stanford has a very capable quarterback, but the Cardinal offense thrives on the running game.

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