USC manhandles Stanford, makes its case as College Football Playoff contender

Lucy Hill
September 11, 2017

Will Chryst continue his efficient and mistake-free play?

The Cardinal had one first down in the second half, and 116 total yards. The crowd went wild, as any crowd will when it witnesses a hero step up fully into his spotlight.

A key play on the march was a 35-yard gain on a Darnold to Deontay Burnett pass in which Burnett stretched with one hand and tipped the ball to himself before jetting down the left sideline. But the drive stalled, forcing a 36-yard field goal by Jet Toner to cut the lead to 21-17.

I can see how others outside of Pac-12 Country might not see this as a rivalry.

It was a completely different scene than what took place just a week earlier, when the Trojans trudged into the locker room to smattered boos.

"There was an energy about our kids and a confidence about our kids", Helton said. We've had some hard days in the past against Stanford. "Our kids had their jaws set and had the mentality to come out and be physical and they believed in what they were doing".

USC pulled away from Western Michigan last week after seeing the game tied late. Without Solomon Thomas and lacking quality depth on the line and playmakers at linebacker, the Cardinal is vulnerable up front. One of the biggest plays on the game-winning drive: Pritchard converting a fourth-and-20 by throwing to a Harbaugh WR who'd later play CB for Carroll against Harbaugh in the NFL. "We weren't flying around like we normally do", Smith said.

For the offense, the game was a clinic in spreading the ball. He then tossed a ideal 11-yard lob to Steven Mitchell Jr. for a touchdown that made it 35-17 USC.

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Similar breakdowns could be catastrophic against Stanford running back Bryce Love, who rushed for 180 yards and a touchdown in a 62-7 win over Rice in Australia.

The Trojans controlled both lines of scrimmage from start to finish.

Darnold was soon at it again.

Opponents have to respect Darnold's running, and that was the case when the Trojans reached the Stanford 1-yard line. The USC Trojans ground game is averaging 232 yards per contest, and Ronald Jones II leads the way with 159 yards and three touchdowns.

Stanford's been blessed with good running backs, with McCaffrey and now Love.

Bryce Love vs USC front seven - Love ran roughshod over the Owls last week to the tune of over 13 yards per carry. At the time of publication, the Trojans are laying 6.5 points; AccuScore sim data, however, has USC favored by just 3 points, a 3.5-point differential between the Vegas odds and sim data. It's the second game into the season and we're 0-1 in the conference. "When [their] opportunity presents itself, they make the most of it. Offensively we have to punch those in, make them touchdowns and keep this game close and win it at the end". It's tough to judge the complete quality of a team after the first week, but early returns are promising. We all know what they are going to do. We all know what they are going to do.

Of USC's 22 offensive snaps in the fourth quarter, 19 were runs, gaining 124 yards. The sophomore quarterback didn't have the debut most anticipated, as Darnold completed 23 of 33 throws for 289 yards and two picks.

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