In the crosshairs: Stanford Cardinal

USC is set to play the second revenge game in as many weeks, and hoping Saturday’s outcome will be better than the last. The Cardinal they face in Palo Alto are far superior to last week’s Huskies, and though they were embarrassed by Oregon in the last outing, there are still very few cracks in the armor.

Saturday’s host presents more than a “get even” target.  Stanford has also maintained its role as USC’s biggest humiliator in a series now loaded with bad blood.  What began with Jim Harbaugh calling timeouts in the waning seconds of the lopsided 2008 loss to the Trojans, carried over to the infamous 2-point conversion late in a game Stanford had well in hand a year ago.  And of course, it was all capped by the words “what’s your deal” muttered through the clenched teeth of Pete Carroll and directed at Stanford’s often whacked out leader.  Fans and players still find relevance in those past actions, but so far, Lane kiffin appears unwilling to play that game inside the game.

“It’s irrelevant,” Kiffin said of the residue of last year’s defeat. “Unless the Seahawks are on their schedule.”

Stanford by the numbers

Category Nat. Rank Conf. Rank Average
Total offense 16 3 469.60
Rush offense 23 4 214.00
Pass offense 29 3 255.60
Pass efficiency 20 2 154.67
Scoring offense 4 2 44.60
Total Defense 44 3 330.00
Rush Defense 84 7 167.00
Pass Defense 19 3 163.00
Pass Efficiency Defense 21 4 105.36
Scoring Defense 45 4 21.40

USC may be able to continue its rushing assault, with Allen Bradford coming off a tremendous game in the loss to Washington, and already being named the starter for Saturday. But that may be an end to the positives in the forecast.

We move from Jake Locker to Andrew Luck, and a secondary that was further exposed a week ago has an even greater challenge upcoming.  The Stanford offensive line has allowed just two sacks this season, and the Trojans have remained committed to rushing only four, showing far fewer blitz packages than it has in years past.  The Cardinal may be without wide receiver Chris Owusu, who is listed as day-to-day after suffering a concussion last weekend,  but Ryan Whalen (elbow), who missed the last two games, is expected to make his return.  Whalen has been Stanford’s leading receiver for the past two seasons, working as Luck’s favorite target.

The Skinny: USC’s defense has 8 takeaways in five games, and will need a few more on Saturday to get the win.  A year ago, the Cardinal scored on nearly every offensive possession and the Trojans couldn’t keep pace.  To avoid a repeat, the nation’s 116th ranked pass defense is going to need some breaks. USC also lost the turnover battle (1-4), and allowed the Cardinal to dominate the time of possession. In order for this road underdog to pull the upset, both must change.

All Time Series: USC leads 56-25-3
Streak: Stanford won 1
Last Meeting: 2009 | Stanford 55, USC 21 (Los Angeles)

Fun Facts

  • Stanford has lost the last 4 home games against USC by an average margin of 24.8 points.
  • The Trojans haven’t loss consecutive games in a season since Pete Carroll’s 1-4 start in 2001
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~ by Anthony on October 7, 2010.

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