After a season full of uncertainty, injuries and triumph— the #10 USC Trojans look to claim their final stake in the College Football Playoff picture as they once again take on the #12 Stanford Cardinal in the Pac-12 Championship game. In what will be USC’s biggest game in 2017, we take a look at a few different scenarios as to how this one will play out.
Matthew: Defeating an improved Stanford team twice will be a lot tougher.
Stanford is a much better and different team than when they played the Trojans back on September 9th. Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello has looked pretty good since he was named the starting quarterback and it’s been a trickle down effect for the whole offense. Running back Bryce Love has been battling an ankle injury, however he is in the running for the Heisman trophy which the outstanding numbers he has put up. Even the defense has played some improved football since then. USC on the other hand been winning, but won games in ugly fashion since their win over Stanford. Sam Darnold has had an issue taking care of the ball, however has done a better job with ball control since the Notre Dame game. The Trojans also finally had a bye week to get players healthy and mentally get right after playing 12 straight games, where Stanford on the other hand just had a physical game against Notre Dame and playing on short rest.
If USC can get pressure on K.J. Costello and slow down Bryce Love then the Trojans can claim their first conference championship, however USC the last two games has had issues getting to the quarterback which hasn’t bode well for the USC secondary. Not to mention USC’s offensive line and discipline has not helped out the offense at all. I see this game being a lot closer than their week 2 meeting, but this time Stanford comes out on the winning end by getting a key stop on USC.
Richard: The Trojans will triumph once again—but not like last time.
In their second game of the season, USC had their most complete game that has stood in the regular season. Darnold threw for over 300 yards and four touchdowns while Ronald Jones II and Stephen Carr both went for over 100 yards. The defense was key in this offensive performance as key turnovers frequented USC’s ball dominance.
However, I expected USC to overwhelm the Cardinal with pure offense. The defense will come to play as they always do, but we a full arsenal of weapons(finally) Darnold might be poised to return to his 2016 ways and go for close to 500 yards and five touchdowns, all the while RoJo does his thing and runs wild all over Stanford. I still epxect Bryce Love to have a big game but it won’t be enough—Trojans overwhelm the Cardinal 38-20 and take the Pac-12 Title en route to a hopeful playoff spot.
Nick: Stanford has improved, USC has not.
This game will come down to who wins the line of scrimmage, who makes the most of their possessions, and execution in the red zone. In a matchup of discipline, brutality on the line of scrimmage, and good decision making Stanford would seem to have a substantial upper hand. Also, frankly, the USC coaching staff has shown little to no ability to make improvements. Stanford on the other hand has shown immense adaptability and ability to improve. I like Stanford to take this one, but I’m prepared for high drama, however as Sam Darnold has a healthy line, and a full compliment of weapons which means there is a good chance he lights up the scoreboard tonight.