Friday’s Pac-12 Championship will feature a rematch from this season’s meeting between USC and Stanford. USC came away with a convincing win over the Cardinal at the Coliseum back in September. However not only will it be a rematch from this season, it is also a rematch from the 2015 Pac-12 Championship game.
Back in 2015 USC and Stanford met in the Pac-12 Championship game at Levi’s Stadium where the Trojans looked to pull an upset and avenge their earlier loss to Stanford while the Cardinal was playing for a possible Playoff berth. A few players such as Ronald Jones II, Chris Hawkins, and Steven Mitchell Jr. were a part of that Trojans team that lost to Stanford that night. Clay Helton also had the interim tag taken off a few days before the game. The USC defense got torched by Heisman candidate running back Christian McCaffrey, who had an amazing performance which almost won him the Heisman. That night Stanford defeated USC 41-22 on their way to the Rose Bowl while the Trojans went to the Holiday bowl.
While Stanford is looking to avenge their loss to USC from earlier this season, USC will be looking for retribution for their embarrassing defeat to the Cardinal in the 2015 Pac-12 Championship. Current players and head coach Clay Helton still remember that game and want to make things right by winning the Pac-12 Championship against Stanford. Things have changed since that 2015 game.
You can almost say the roles have reversed here. USC carrying a 10-2 record and is the conference only hope at sneaking into the College Football Playoffs while Stanford saw a turnaround from their 1-2 start at the beginning of the season. Justin Wilcox was the defensive coordinator during that game and had issues containing McCaffrey that night.
Current Trojans defensive coordinator now has the task of not only slowing down Stanford’s Heisman candidate in running back Bryce Love but quarterback KJ Costello, who has helped turn Stanford’s offense around. Sam Darnold will look to get the USC offense off to a quicker start against the Cardinal defense and repeat the same success they had back in September. Something the 2015 USC offense had issues doing against Stanford at Levi’s Stadium.
For USC they will look to not only obtain their first Pac-12 Championship since 2008, but to avenge a loss that started the Helton era. Things tend to come full circle, it’s up to the Trojans to change the script this time.