USC and Stanford have a storied history through out the years. On Saturday they write another chapter will be written when the two programs take the field this Saturday for an early conference showdown. Our staff at Conquest Chronicles share their predictions heading into Saturday’s showdown at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.
With both back up quarterbacks making their first start, this game is going to boil down to the defense and who can play disciplined football.
USC narrowly escaped Fresno State, however there were plenty of points left on that field. Most was due to either turnovers or dumb penalties despite the Trojans only committing four. We do know that USC can move the ball, however as Graham Harrell mentioned this week, they have to finish those drives. The interesting tidbit here is Kedon Slovis now running the offense. They’re going to open the playbook for the freshman and allow him to play and with the way the offensive line blocked and the talent at wide receiver and running back, I would say he don’t have much of a problem at all. Stanford’s defense looked solid against Northwestern despite the Wildcats not having a prolific offense. They held Northwestern to only 7 points in the game. You can expect Stanford to dial up some blitzes and throw different coverages at USC to confuse Slovis.
I’m more worried about a young USC defense who gave up 400 plus yards to a Fresno State team replacing a large amount of starters. They had issues with the reverses and the secondary gave up four plays of 20 yards or more. One huge thing to factor in is the fact that Stanford is also throwing in a back up quarterback in Davis Mills as well as missing their All Pac-12 lineman Walker Little. This could be an opportunity for USC defensive ends Drake Jackson or Christian Rector to take advantage and cause chaos in the Cardinal backfield.
This game will come down to execution, discipline, and defense. Stanford has the advantage in two of those three categories. However, If there’s one thing we know about Stanford early in the season is that they do tend to struggle and not look as great, especially on the road. The USC offense didn’t look as awful as many believed, but there was still plenty of work to be done. This game is literately a coin flip, but I give the edge to Stanford slightly.
USC- 24 Stanford- 27
So with starting quarterbacks on the field, I would have picked Stanford to win the game by something along the lines of 26-19. It would be a convincing, solid win for the Cardinal.
But with backup quarterbacks in the equation, I’m not sure anymore. All of a sudden, there’s a lot more intrigue and potential variation. All of a sudden, this game will come down to Kedon Slovis versus Davis Mills.
In terms of high school pedigree, Mills certainly has the edge. Mills was ESPN’s number two ranked pocket passer of the 2017 class. As a redshirt sophomore with continuity under head coach David Shaw, his on paper attributes should give the Cardinal some optimism.
But I watched Kedon Slovis in spring camp. And when Kedon Slovis is on, it’s a beauty to behold. USC has far more pure offensive talent than Northwestern, with strong skill position players. Stanford may have held Northwestern to 7 points, but they will not have such luck defending USC.
On the defensive side, I actually liked what I saw from USC against Fresno State. The defensive line and secondary were incredible, and I’m not worried about the linebacking group because I trust in the men in the middle. John Houston and Palaie Gaoteote will ensure that USC’s linebacking core will come to play on Saturday.
With all that out of the way, I think USC leaps out to an early lead. Neither team knows what the other will do on offense, but USC’s talent will take over. From there, David Shaw will make adjustments for Stanford while Clay Helton and co. struggle to adjust. USC will have a two score lead at half, and it will evaporate.
USC holds on. 28-27.
USC may be in luck this year with Stanford’s starting quarterback and tackle sidelined with injury.
Though Davis Mills was a highly touted recruit, he has yet to start a game which should benefit the Trojans if they are able to generate pressure. This could be Drake Jackson’s breakout game.
Kedon Slovis showed some great things last week against Fresno State, his only bad throw coming from the miscommunication with Michael Pittman Jr. I am confident that Slovis has the skill to get the job done and that Graham Harrell’s playbook will make the task of taking down Stanford a bit easier for the former second-stringer.
For USC to win this game the must win the turnover battle. The Trojans’ young defense can not afford to let Mills make big plays, or for Stanford’s always present run-game to break through the outside of the field.
USC’s veteran wide receivers are going to have to go up and make plays for the young Slovis. Pittman Jr. will have to be a heavy target.
The cards are all in USC’s favor except for JT Daniels watching from the sideline. A home game with two of Stanford’s biggest playmakers out? There is no reason the Trojans shouldn’t capitalize.
It will be a close one, but USC pulls out the win in another nail biter.
USC 20 Stanford 17