David Shaw’s Stanford team is coming off of one of the most significant wins in program history, downing the No. 3 Oregon Ducks 26-20 at home last Thursday night. This week, the Cardinal will look to avoid a sense of complacency while taking on a hot USC team.
The Trojans have no shortage of explosive playmakers on both sides of the ball with Marqise Lee, Nelson Agholor, and Dion Bailey being among the most notable. Stanford will have to perform as well as it did against the Ducks in order to fend off one of the strongest teams in the Pac-12 South.
The Cardinal shut Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota down for three quarters. This week, they will have much less to worry about, as Trojan quarterback Cody Kessler is not much of a threat on the ground. Therefore, they have a significant advantage on the defensive side of the ball.
Nonetheless, Stanford will need to contain the explosive playmakers Agholor and Lee to fully shut Kessler down. Talented defensive backs Alex Carter, Ed Reynolds and Jordan Richards should be up for the challenge, however, as the Cardinal only allowed 254 passing yards and no passing touchdowns to the Trojans’ explosive aerial attack last season.
On the ground, the Trojans have a large stable of running backs that can hurt you in a number of ways. However, after allowing only 62 yards to Oregon’s normally dominant rushing attack, the Cardinal’s outstanding front seven should be able to slow down Tre Madden and company out of that USC offensive backfield.
On the other side of the ball, Tyler Gaffney is coming off of a 45-carry performance against Oregon. It is unlikely that anyone would be able to take on a workload that large during two consecutive weeks, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Cardinal air it out a bit more.
With Devin Cajuste fully healthy and an explosive Ty Montgomery on the outside, Kevin Hogan should be able to
settle into a nice groove against a relatively young USC secondary. Hogan also proved to be a pest on the ground once more last week, gracefully extending plays outside of the pocket. Look for him to continue that success this week.
When the Cardinal edged out a ranked Washington team in an emotional win, they fell to Utah the next week. This week, Stanford will look to remain focused, especially given the talent on USC’s roster.
The game kicks off at 5:00 p.m. PT, so be sure to tune in.