Rounding out their run of California-based teams to start the season, the USC Trojans will face off against the Stanford Cardinal in Week 3 of the revised 2020 football schedule. USC will have played at UCLA and against California at home before heading north to Palo Alto to face off against QB Davis Mills and Co. on October 10.
2020 Season Preview Series — Week 1 @ UCLA
2020 Season Preview Series — Week 2 vs Cal
Stanford could present troubles this season, and should not be overlooked despite their lackluster 4-8 record a season ago.
Head coach David Shaw has shown the ability to be a football powerhouse, not just in the Pac-12 but nationally, and he may have one of his better quarterbacks in the making in Mills.
The former No. 1 recruit from his class, Mills fought his way into the starting lineup after a great season from K.J. Costello in 2018 granted him the starting spot in 2019. With injuries derailing Costello’s time with Stanford, Mills got the green light in 2019 down the stretch and set a Stanford record with 504 passing yards against Washington State in Week 12.
In total, he completed 64.8% of his passes for 1,954 yards and 11 touchdowns, showcasing a little of what made him such a highly sought after recruit.
The USC secondary will have to be on the A-game and the cornerbacks will need to disrupt as many passes as they can because Mills has terrific arm strength and a great feel for the outside.
Mills also has a terrific offensive line in front of him including Walker Little and Foster Sarell — each of whom could be as high as a first-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Their receiver room is also deep, even if they lack a clear-cut No. 1 in terms of total targets and ability to turn those total targets into extra yards, so there are plenty of options for the Trojans secondary to shut down.
On defense, Stanford will also return an extremely talented player in Paulson Adebo at cornerback. Though he struggled out of the gates in 2019, he’s every bit of an All-American caliber player and really turned it on down the stretch a season ago.
He’s just one man, though, and the Cardinal will have to rely on a relatively inexperienced group outside of Adebo and safety Malik Antoine. Their wildcard here is cornerback Kyu Bl Kelly, who like USC’s own Chris Steele, was a highly-rated recruit in their class together. He turned in a pick and three more pass breakups a season ago and was rarely beat for anything long but was penalized several times. He could be in line for the Year 2 breakout, but will have a big test waiting for him.
All in all, the Stanford team needn’t be looked over one bit. This is a talented team with a ton of wildcards at very important positions. If their talented cornerbacks and secondary can show up to play like they did at times in 2018 and 2019, they can present challenges for Kedon Slovis and the USC receiving corps.
We know that Mills can sling it, and has shown he can drop 300 or 400 yards through the air with ease, so slowing him down just enough should do the trick.
Slovis outduels Mills in a shootout, and the Trojans pull away late due to depth and star power. This has Tyler Vaughns hero show written all over it.
USC should improve to 3-0 overall and win what could be considered the California Quarantine State Title.