USC vs. Stanford: Studs and duds from the 2017 rivalry game

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Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images /

The Trojans scored a big win over the Cardinal Saturday in the Coliseum. Here are some of the studs and duds from USC vs. Stanford.

Saturday night in Los Angeles USC made a statement beating the Stanford Cardinal 42-24.

The victory over the Cardinal snapped a three game skid to the Trojans Pac-12 rival.

While the game showcased a lot of the top talent in the Pac-12 conference, let’s take a look at those who stood out, for better or for worse:


Uchenna Nwosu:

If last week against WMU proved that Cameron Smith is the brain of the USC defense, Saturday revealed Uchenna Nwosu is the heart.

The senior outside linebacker was a nightmare for the Cardinal all game. Whether it was breaking up passes, or getting to the passer, Nwosu was making plays.

The game plan coming in was to slow down Bryce Love and Nwosu played his part magnificently, playing force on the edge and keeping contain so USC could swarm to the football and make stops.

Normally Smith and Porter Gustin are the linebackers that get all the publicity, which is well earned. However, tonight everyone was treated to a firsthand look at how great a player Nwosu is.

Deontay Burnett:

Last week USC’s wide receiver group was extremely disappointing against the Broncos. There were dropped passes and missed opportunities on key third downs. One receiver who did stand out for the Trojans was Deontay Burnett.

Emerging as Sam Darnold’s most trusted target, Burnett wowed again with an impressive performance against Stanford. He finished with nine catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns.

The junior wide out was definitely a go to target for Darnold as he made multiple catches on third down to extend drives.

Stephen Carr:

The Reign of Troy rant line was full of RotBots calling for Stephen Carr to usurp Ronald Jones II in the tailback rotation after his debut versus Western Michigan. While it is clear that Jones is the president of the backfield, Carr is clearly the vice president waiting his turn.

On a night when USC made it a point of emphasis to hammer Stanford between the tackles with Jones and Malepeai, Carr definitely played the role of the blade, slashing through the Cardinal defense for 119  yards on 11 carries.

Make no mistake though, Carr is without a doubt the real deal and will continue to play a big role in USC’s campaign.

The Trojan Offensive and Defensive Lines:

Coming into the game against Stanford there was a lot of angst among USC supporters for good reason as well. The way that USC sputtered early against WMU had most worried that Stanford was going come in and bully USC.

Instead, the Trojans came out and made a statement—that they are a physical team as well.

USC hit Stanford in the mouth on both offense and defense and did so all night long. The offensive line blew open holes, paving the way for over 300 rushing yards. The defensive line also stepped it up, the the combination of Josh Fatu and Marlon Tuipulotu taking the battle to Stanford, allowing the linebackers to shoot gaps and make plays in the backfield.

It was an impressive outing, setting the tone for USC’s night.

Sam Darnold:

In the season opener, Sam Darnold looked ordinary. He did not play poorly against the Broncos, however, he lacked the dynamic plays that made him the heartthrob of college football.

On Saturday against Stanford, the gunslinger Darnold was back and in full force. He showed the accuracy, vision, and poise that have him No. 1 on Mel Kiper’s Big Board. He also showed the unwavering faith in his right arm that makes every USC fan flinch when he throws off that back foot.

Darnold finished the game 21-of-26 for 316 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. While some may knock Darnold for having back-to-back multiple interception games, he has still only made one truly poor throw. The rest of the interceptions he has thrown have generally been excellent plays by the defensive back.

It was good to see Darnold look like a Heisman contender again. If he plays like that USC will be tough to beat.

Honorable Mention:

Ronald Jones II, quietly getting the tough yards between the tackles, turned in another solid performance. Jones capped off his 23 carries for 116 yards with an explosive touchdown run to put the game on ice.