The last time USC beat Stanford at the Coliseum, they were two-time defending national champions. Needless to say, it’s been a while, as Stanford has won three straight in Los Angeles and five of six overall against the Trojans. Can USC get some mojo back against the No. 5 Stanford Cardinal? Our staff weighs in with some predictions:
Matthew Moreno | Stanford 24, USC 20
Since Ed Oregron took over, USC has been a different team and he’s got them primed for a big performance. Looking at the stats, this game really is strength against strength. I think the Trojans will be able to slow Stanford down and move the ball well through the air, but I don’t know if they’ll have enough left in the tank towards the end of the game. Maybe if Tre Madden and Leonard Williams were healthy, I’d call for an upset. But unfortunately they’re not, and that could end up being the difference.
Michael Castillo | Stanford 20, USC 16
While the Trojans have steadily improved since shooting their foot in South Bend, the stakes are raised against Stanford and even with a new-found poise, it’s a tall order for USC. To win, the Trojans will need to assert balance on offense and protect Cody Kessler, but injuries in the backfield mean no Silas Redd, a likely limited Tre Madden and an offensive line that is still unproven. Trent Murphy, Josh Mauro and Shayne Skov could be too much for a USC offense that needs the running game to set up the pass. Orgeron’s bunch keep it close and play inspired, but there’s just too much Stanford muscle up front to call for an upset.
Alicia de Artola | USC 23, Stanford 19
Stanford is a very good team, but the Cardinal have some clear vulnerabilities. Their pass defense is a relative weakness and the Trojans feature playmakers in the passing game like Nelson Agholor and Marqise Lee. Their offense isn’t particularly impressive and USC’s defense has been among the best in the Pac-12. When it comes down to it, USC can win this game, but it’ll take heart. Fortunately, heart is exactly what Ed Orgeron is all about. Both offenses will struggle, but the Trojans will have more explosive plays and that will be the difference.