Stanford and USC have had some great matchups in the past couple of the years with a some of the games going down to the wire. Will this year be different? The staff at Conquest Chronicles give their predictions.
Trajuan Briggs: 35-17, USC. The Trojans will attack Stanford and not give them a chance to adjust once this game starts. Jackson, Rogers, and Mitchell will be more active on offense as Stanford will focus on Smith-Schuster. The Wilcox and the Trojan defense will bring pressure and disrupt Hogan before he begins to gain a rhythm in this game, taking his go to guys away.
Nick Dempsey: Stanford desperately needs to clean up the mistakes. This includes dropped passes (on both sides of the ball) drive killing penalties, and poor offensive play calling. The Stanford offensive line also needs to get a better push. These problems were readily apparent in Stanford's loss to Northwestern. The Cardinal began to address these problems in their big win at home against a struggling UCF team but they still plagued Stanford. If these problems continue for Stanford then barring disaster USC will almost certainly win at home. If Stanford plays a clean game and they open up their offensive playbook to utilize their dangerous offensive weapons then we could have a much different ball game.
USC for their part must improve on a few key areas. It is safe to say the Stanford pass rush is more intense than Idaho or Arkansas State. Cody Kessler must work with the line to identify the rushes, and Kessler must get the ball out of his hands quicker.
Perhaps most importantly USC will have to be able to move the ball downfield without big plays. The Trojans are averaging about 9 yards per play, it is safe to assume that probably will not be the case against Stanford. This is where the abysmal third down conversion rate could become a serious problem for the Trojans. If Stanford stops the big plays, and USC cannot move the ball on third down then we are headed toward another punt-filled field goal fest.
Julian Lopez: 38-17, USC. The Trojans are expected to win this game and I think they will, but David Shaw will bring his Cardinal ready to play. USC's offense is too explosive for Stanford to match and I think on primetime on ABC, the Trojans shine in their Pac-12 opener.
Briggs: The Trojans will rush for 250+ yards on offense. With Ronald Jones producing, Davis and Madden healthy, expect the Trojans to establish a threat on the ground express this Saturday