The Pac-12 Championship game had everything, from Christian McCaffrey putting on a show to Cody Kessler scoring on a zone-read keeper. At the end of the day, Stanford got the win over USC, 41-22.
The lowdown: Stanford started the game by owning the first half. The Cardinal had 21 minutes of possession in it, which was full of Christian McCaffrey doing Christian McCaffrey things. The Heisman hopeful had 155 rushing yards by halftime, and put Stanford on the board with the only touchdown of the first two quarters, a pass to Kevin Hogan. While USC’s defense was without answers for stopping the Cardinal running game, the Trojans couldn’t generate much on offense either, gaining only 80 total yards. They finished the half with a field goal from Alex Wood, which gave them positive vibes at the break.
Coming out of halftime, USC looked like it was on fire. They scored on successive drives, totaling 142 yards to take a lead. They did it by going back to their bread and butter, running the football and finding seldom-used weapons in the passing game. Jahleel Pinner caught a touchdown pass, while Ronald Jones followed it up with a 27-yard jaunt to the endzone. After Wood’s first extra-point was blocked, the Trojans had to settle for a momentum-fueled lead of 16-13.
Stanford would answer with back to back touchdowns, including a 4-play, 78-yard drive highlighted by a 67-yard pass to McCaffrey. Moments later, they got back to a double-digit lead with a scoop and score by Solomon Thomas on a Cody Kessler fumble.
USC would respond with a gut-check touchdown drive spanning seven plays for 65 yards, but yet another McCaffrey big play would do it for Stanford. He caught a 28-yard pass from Hogan while being entirely uncovered.
Player of the game: Christian McCaffrey straight up dominated USC. He ran all over the Trojans to punch his ticket to New York for next week’s Heisman Trophy presentation. McCaffrey finished with 207 rushing yards and 105 receiving yards, on top of an 11-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Hogan.
Next on tap: After losing to Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship game, USC will now have to wait and see what it’s bowl fate will be. The Trojans could be headed to any of the following bowls: Alamo, Holiday, Sun or Las Vegas. Though the Foster Farms Bowl was originally thought to be a suitor, their committee is reportedly favoring UCLA in hopes of not having USC back at Levi’s Stadium twice in three weeks.207