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Breaking Down The Stanford Cardinal

Time for our first look at all things USC vs. Stanford

The Weekender will make for one solid football game.
The Weekender will make for one solid football game.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The fun and games of taking down Fresno State have now passed, and the Trojans must set their sights on No. 11 Stanford Cardinal, a team hungry to exact revenge from last season.

USC won last season's November matchup on a last-minute field goal from Andre Heidari, erupting the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum into shear pandemonium and a once-in-a-lifetime storming of the field. Led by former coach Ed Orgeron and a defensive rotation which featured just 12 players, USC was pushed to its ultimate limits against then No. 4 Stanford.

Stanford is USC's oldest rival, with the series dating back to 1905 and USC currently holds a 59-29-3 lead over The Cardinal. You wouldn't believe it 10 years ago, back when the Cal Golden Bears and the Trojans were battling back and forth in overtime thrillers, but right now this Stanford-USC rivalry is arguably the best it has ever been.

As this will be USC's opening game in the Pac-12 conference, the Trojans are 66-20-5 (.753) all-time and have won 28 of their last 43 conference openers. USC has also won 72 percent of its road openers but heading into Palo Alto, albeit a place loaded with a USC-heavy crowd, this will still be one difficult conference opener.

The last time USC went up to the Farm in 2012, Matt Barkley and No. 1 USC struggled to move the football with any level of success, eventually falling 21-14 in what started a season filled with disappointing finishes. That pushed Stanford's winning streak against USC to four games, the longest said streak in this rivalry's history.

Interesting to note while the Cardinal dominated UC Davis in its home opener, Stanford only got 10 catches from their tight ends all of last season. Ty Montgomery leads the charge of pass-catching targets, including 5 catches for 77 yards last week, but sophomore tight end Austin Hooper had four catches for 63 yards, including one touchdown grab from backup quarterback Evan Crower.

While the Cardinal have lost some depth on defense, the emergence of A.J. Tarpley (6 tackles last week) as a legitimate All-American linebacker candidate has anchored the efforts for this upcoming season. Stanford also returns stud defensive end Henry Anderson and have a great secondary led by preseason All-Pac-12 second team standout Alex Carter along with All-American team captain Jordan Richards.

Counting down the days until the start of the much-anticipated Weekender matchup against Stanford, head coach Steve Sarkisian shared his thoughts on the Fresno State win, and what USC must do to start Pac-12 play on a good note.


FUN FACTS FROM THE USC SID OFFICE

  • USC has played 1,188 games in its history and only twice-when Troy snapped No. 1-ranked California's 38-game regular season unbeaten streak in 1951 at Berkeley and in 2012's loss at Stanford has the final score been a very football-like 21-14.
  • USC's only modern-day in-season game cancellation involved Stanford in 1924. At the Trojans' 1924 game at California on Nov. 1, USC was informed that beginning in 1925 Cal and Stanford would no longer be playing USC. So, USC decided not to wait the year, canceling its home game the following week (Nov. 8) against Stanford.
  • USC instead hosted -- and lost to -- St. Mary's that day. As it turned out, Stanford was back on USC's schedule in 1925 and the teams have played every year since then except during WWII years: 1943-44-45.