Cardinal rain on Trojans homecoming parade
For the second time in three years, Stanford has owned the Los Angeles Coliseum. Unlike those underdogs of 2007 that clawed back to shock and surprise the Trojans and the college football world, this year’s group jumped out early, struck often, and walked away with a convincing 55-21 victory.
The combination of Andrew Luck and Toby Gerhart proved to be too much for the Trojans’ spiraling defense to handle, accounting for six of the Cardinal’s 8 touchdowns. Gerhart rumbled for 182 yards and 3 scores, continuing to be the unstoppable force the Pac 10 has seen all season. Andrew Luck did his part to solidify his stance in the “best freshman quarterback” debate, by throwing for two touchdowns and running for another.
The Trojans struggled again with the escapability of another quarterback. Luck took everything the defense gave him, legging out 62 yards for an average of 8.7 per carry, respecting the coverage by the USC secondary, while punishing an overaggressive defensive line. The Trojans entered this contest second in the nation in sacks, but failed to record any against a mobile hurler that has only been corralled 6 times this year.
Though the Trojans offense gave glimpses of perfection at times, it was moments of imperfection that fed the opponent. Matt Barkley’s early fumble on the first possession, after USC had driven to the red zone, resulted in Stanford’s first score. The generous offerings continued, with the young quarterback also throwing three interceptions on the day that led to 21 Cardinal points. In all, 28 of Stanford’s 55 points followed USC turnovers, including a pick-six by Richard Sherman to squash any comeback hopes.
At some point, Stanford has to be given its due respect. The Cardinal have now defeated two top-ten opponents in consecutive weeks. After putting up 51 points against Oregon a week ago, they followed by making it rain for 55 on Saturday, the most points ever scored against USC in its 121 year history of football.
It was homecoming, but you wouldn’t know it. The Coliseum was emptied before the final seconds had left the clock. It was Pete Carroll’s first loss in November, first loss on homecoming, and topped the Oregon Halloween debacle for the worst loss he’s ever suffered as head coach at USC. The conference championship is no longer in reach, and BCS at-large dreaming is over. The Trojans now have 3-losses in a season for the first time since 2001. The Empire has fallen.