USC vs. Stanford final score and recap: Trojans roll in Kedon Slovis debut

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images /

Saturday night’s USC vs. Stanford final score was a shocker, as the Trojans routed the No. 23 Cardinal at the Coliseum.

Yes, you’re not reading the USC vs. Stanford final score correctly. The Trojans beat Stanford 45-20. Here’s how it went down…

The lowdown: After USC made a habit of building  (and losing)14-point first half leads, Clay Helton’s Trojans decided to switch things up against No. 23 Stanford. It was the visiting Cardinal who roared out to a 17-3 lead early in the second quarter.

Clancy Pendergast’s defense was getting gashed, the special teams was supplying short fields, the offense couldn’t finish off drives and social media had Helton once against dead to rights.

But then the flip switched. Whether it was divine intervention or the kinship of all living things, USC’s Kedon Slovis Era officially took off with a 35-unanswered points.

The Trojans went on an utterly dominant 42-3 run that featured four touchdown drives of 70-plus yards. They did it with ease, as Slovis found both wide open receivers and draped-all-over receivers, and got some assistance from the budding two-headed backfield of Vavae Malepeai and Stephen Carr.

Slovis, in his first career start in place of injured JT Daniels, completed 28 of 33 passes for a school record of 377 passing yards in a freshman debut. He added three touchdowns.

Defensively, USC held Stanford scoreless in the second half with the help of a missed Jet Toner field goal, an Austin Jackson field goal block and a Greg Johnson interception.

The takeaway: The air raid is here, and boy did it not disappoint. Saturday night’s offensive explosion showed off everything USC’s offense can be in the new system under Graham Harrell. They were scheming receivers open, running into wide-open Stanford front sevens and relying on stellar performances from a bevy of offensive talent.

It’s exactly what Harrell was hired to do. It took pressure off a wildly aggressive defense and forced the issue for a team desperately needing to show some in-game initiative. And if USC truly wants to turn things around for Clay Helton, this is exactly how they need to be going forward.

Beating Stanford was a major first step for both the scheme and freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis, but the onus is on the offense to keep flying high into their next four games, something the 2017 Trojans couldn’t do after steamrolling Stanford in similar fashion.

Player of the game: Who else but Kedon Slovis. The true freshman turned in the most dominant passing performance by a freshman in their first start in USC history. His second half throws to Michael Pittman and Tyler Vaughns were sublime, as was his stat line.

Stat of the game: Slovis’s 210.8 passer rating was the highest by a starting quarterback at USC since Sam Darnold recorded a 212.1 against Stanford in the 2017 Pac-12 Championship Game. Darnold also had a 218.3 rating against the Cardinal in the regular season that year.

Next on tap: The Trojans will go on their first road trip of the season next Saturday, at BYU in Provo. The 1-1 Cougars are coming off a road win over Tennessee.