USC vs. Stanford: First Glance At The Fourth-Ranked Cardinal

Ezra Shaw

The Trojans will be hosting the Stanford Cardinal for the sixth game of the Ed Orgeron era facing one of the most physical teams in the nation on both sides of the ball.

First glance: No. 4 Stanford Cardinal (8-1, 6-1)

Coach: David Shaw (31-5, third season as Stanford head coach after spending four years as offensive coordinator)

Last game: Stanford defeated then second-ranked Oregon 26-20 by pounding the rock 66 times amassing 274 yards rushing on the ground, while the Ducks failed to score until the fourth quarter.

Numbers:

  • Jordan Williamson is 13-14 on field goals inside of 50 yards this season
  • Kevin Hogan now 13-1 career as a starter, and 8-0 against ranked opponents
  • Stanford ranks first in rushing defense (99.2 YGP), second in scoring defense (19.4 PPG) and third in total defense (349 YPG)
  • 7 Stanford has held opponents to seven or fewer first-half points in seven games this season
  • 10 Stanford has won each of its last three games in which it has completed fewer than 10 passes (8 vs. Oregon State in 2013, 7 vs. Washington State in 2012, 7 vs. Oregon)
  • 30 Stanford scored at least 31 points in each of its first five games this season. Stanford did not score 30+ points in consecutive games in all of 2012.
  • 100 Stanford is 5-1 this season when one of its running backs goes over 100 yards

The series: USC leads 58-29-3, but the Trojans have dropped each of their past four contests, and five of the last six overall against the Cardinal, including last season's 21-14 loss in Palo Alto when the Trojans were second in the nation before getting upset by the 21st-ranked squad.

The early line: Vegas.com says Stanford (-3.5)

Key Players: The Cardinal's balanced offense, behind 2012 All-Pac-12 first team guard David Yankey, is directed by efficient quarterback Kevin Hogan. Workhorse rusher Tyler Gaffney, who is in the national top 15 in rushing and scoring, keys the ground game, while receiver Ty Montgomery is a threat receiving and returning kickoffs. He leads the nation in kickoff returns and is ninth in all-purpose running.

Stanford's veteran defense is in the top 20 nationally in rushing defense, scoring defense, total defense, sacks and tackles for loss thanks to the likes of ILBs Shayne Skov and A.J. Tarpley, OLB Trent Murphy (he leads the Pac-12 and among Top 10 in sacks and tackles for loss) and 2012 All-Pac-12 first team S Ed Reynolds.

USC's keys to success: USC is playing its first ranked team of 2013 after clinching a bowl berth following an all-around dominating 62-28 effort over the Cal Golden Bears. This is the 19th time the Trojans meet California and then Stanford back-to-back; and they've beaten the Cardinal the last eight such times.

Fun Facts: This is just the seventh time that a 7-3 USC team is not ranked in the AP poll. The other years: 1951-63-66-75-87-98. With College GameDay and the HERD coming to town this week, keep in mind that the Trojans are 6-3 in those national games with losses to Oregon in 2010, Stanford in 2011 and Notre Dame last season.

Video: Here is coach Orgeron's 'Weekly State of The Union' so to speak, following the victory over Cal along with some opening thoughts on taking on the rough and physical Stanford Cardinal at the Coliseum.

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