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USC Football 2016: Will the Trojans Answer the Bell?

As USC approaches the battlefield against the Stanford Cardinal, there are many questions surrounding the team’s night-and-day different performances in the first two games.

Alabama v USC Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

As USC approaches the battlefield against Stanford, there are many questions surrounding the team’s night-and-day performances in the first two games. The Trojans were dominated in week one suffering a painful loss to the Alabama Crimson-Tide 52-6. In week two, the Trojans responded with an impressive victory over Utah State 45-7. Here are some key questions that could be answered this weekend against Stanford:

Will USC be a top-10 team this year?

With momentum playing such a huge part in college football, a bad loss this weekend could spell season-long troubles for the Trojans. USC started the season ranked 20th in the country but has now fallen out of the top-25. A win against Stanford would definitely push them back into the top-25 and build a boatload of confidence for the team going forward. The Trojans’ strength of schedule will definitely aid them in their quest back to the top. A bad loss for the Trojans could ruin their season because they would have no momentum going into the rest of their tough schedule. USC needs to perform well this weekend if they want to have a shot at finishing this year in the top-10.

Who will be the permanent starter at QB?

Max Browne is the primary starting quarterback as of right now. He’s a pocket passing QB who can deliver accurate passes if allotted time to do so. Browne is not a very mobile guy and really struggles when faced with pressure. Sam Darnold is the backup quarterback but has earned playing time in both games. He can make plays with his feet and is a threat in the redzone both passing and running the ball. There have been some cries for Darnold to takeover as the starter and Coach Clay Helton has confirmed that he will be playing throughout the season. Darnold is a redshirt freshman, so youth and growing pains could render hesitation in giving him the keys to the offense. Both quarterbacks have an opportunity to make a huge statement in the quarterback race against Stanford this weekend.

How will the defense respond to a similar offense to Alabama?

Stanford and Alabama have very similar offensive philosophies. They both like to line up in power formations and run the ball down the opponent’s throat, which sets up big plays in the passing game via play-action. The last time the Trojans lined up against that style of offense, they allowed 52 points. Alabama capitalized and broke big plays on power runs and creative pass plays to get behind the Trojans’ defense. It’s imperative for the Trojans to make the proper defensive adjustments to combat a similar style power run offense in Stanford.

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