USC vs. Stanford Gameday Guide: Matchups, lineups, links, odds and more

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Vavae Malepeai #29 of the USC Trojans carries the ball during the second quarter against the Stanford Cardinal at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 9, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Vavae Malepeai #29 of the USC Trojans carries the ball during the second quarter against the Stanford Cardinal at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 9, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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USC vs. Stanford

LA Coliseum | Los Angeles, CA7:30 p.m. Pacific | ESPNAll-time series: USC leads 63-33-3Last meeting: Stanford 17, USC 3 in 2018

Whether it’s the Battle of the Backups, the Backup Bowl or QB2: Electric Boogaloo, USC vs. Stanford could hardly be what anyone expected going into 2019.

Star quarterback K.J. Costello is out for the Cardinal with a concussion. His expected counterpart, JT Daniels, had his sophomore season ended by an ACL injury in Week 1.

So the lens turns to two unproven backups. Stanford’s Davis Mills and USC’s Kedon Slovis.

But it also turns to a rebuilding Cardinal offensive line and a Trojan defensive line with plenty still to prove. It turns to a USC wide receiver corps looking to reach its potential against NFL talent in the Stanford secondary. It turns to head coaches Clay Helton and Davis Shaw, who both need to set a marker for their division title hopes.

The oldest rivalry game in the Pac-12 kicks off on Saturday night at the Coliseum.

Gameday Links:

Preview Podcast:

Co-hosts Michael Castillo and Alicia de Artola run down the matchups for USC and Stanford before setting Over/Under picks and opening a mailbag.

LISTEN: USC vs. Stanford Preview

Having trouble? Download the episode or listen on iTunesGoogle Play or Stitcher.

USC football injury report

  • OUT FOR THE SEASON:
    • LB Solomon Tuliaupupu (foot)
    • QB JT Daniels (knee)
  • OUT:
    • CB Max Williams (hamstring)
    • DL Jacob Lichtenstein (calf)
    • LB Jordan Iosefa (knee)
    • LB Elijah Winston (turf toe)
    • OLB Abdul-Malik McClain
    • TE Ethan Rae (knee)
    • WR Kyle Ford (knee)
    • WR Bru McCoy (illness)
  • PROBABLE:
    • OL Andrew Vorhees (foot)

Stanford football injury report

  • OUT:
    • OL Walker Little (knee)
    • QB K.J. Costello (concussion)
  • QUESTIONABLE:
    • DE Thomas Booker (undisclosed)
    • OL Dylan Powell (undisclosed)

Click here for more details in the USC-Stanford injury report

When USC has the ball…

The matchup is all about the quarterback, even as it isn’t.

Kedon Slovis will be making his first career start and will be tasked with making good decisions despite his inexperience. Graham Harrell’s Air Raid proved capable of leaning on the run game in Week 1 with strong performances from Vavae Malepeai and Stephen Carr, but that was only because Fresno State sacrificed bodies in the box for pass coverage. If Stanford forces the quarterback to beat them, the philosophy of USC’s new offense is to oblige.

Fortunately for Slovis, he has a wide array of passing targets to make use of, from Carr out of the backfield to Tyler Vaughns, Michael Pittman and Amon-Ra St. Brown in the receiving corps. Stanford’s shutdown junior cornerback Paulson Adebo has the task of limiting at least one of those options.

USC’s offensive line showed serious signs of progress against Fresno State, but an even bigger test of their mettle comes against a Stanford front which held Northwestern to 2.83 yards per carry while sacking the quarterback three times in Week 1.

Stanford Defense

  • DE #51 Jovan Swann, Sr.
  • DT #57 Michael Williams, Sr.
  • DE #34 Thomas Booker, So.
  • OLB #52 Casey Toohill, RS-Sr.
  • ILB #2 Curtis Robinson, Sr.
  • OLB #25 Andrew Pryts, Sr.
  • OLB #10 Jordan Fox, Sr.
  • CB #11 Paulson Adebo, Jr.
  • SS #21 Kendall Williamson, So.
  • FS #3 Malik Antoine, Sr.
  • CB #22 Obi Eboh, Sr.

USC Offense

  • LT #73 Austin Jackson, Jr.
  • LG #75 Alijah Vera-Tucker, RS-So.
  • C #62 Brett Neilon, RS-So.
  • RG #70 Jalen McKenzie, RS-So.
  • RT #53 Drew Richmond, RS-Sr.
  • TE #84 Erik Krommenhoek, Jr.
  • X #6 Michael Pittman, Sr.
  • A #1 Velus Jones, RS-Jr.
  • Y #8 Amon-Ra St. Brown, So.
  • Z #21 Tyler Vaughns, RS-Jr.
  • RB #29 Vavae Malepeai, RS-Jr.
  • QB #9 Kedon Slovis Fr.

When Stanford has the ball…

Like the Trojans, Stanford will put their offense in the hands of a first time starter, quarterback Davis Mills.

Mills was the top-rated pro-style quarterback in the class of 2017, but he has spent two seasons on the sidelines, making his first competitive appearance in place of K.J. Costello in the second half against Northwestern.

He won’t have Walker Little, the Cardinal’s outstanding left tackle, to protect his blindside due to injury. That job will fall to a true freshman Walter Rouse, a three-star prospected from the class of 2019.

The Trojans will throw an aggressive pass rush at Mills to try to keep him off balance. The combination of Christian Rector, Jay Tufele, Marlon Tuipulotu, Drake Jackson and Hunter Echols did well to get near Fresno State quarterback Jorge Reyna, but the unit missed several opportunities for sacks. Cleaning that up and finishing plays is the priority in Week 2.

At least when it came to rush defense, USC’s interior line did well to stifle the Bulldog run game. They will have to repeat that performance against veteran back Cameron Scarlett, who doesn’t necessarily flash, but can wear down a defense.

Meanwhile, USC’s secondary gave up four big plays through the air against Fresno State. That vulnerability is a concern with an effective downfield passing attack from Stanford to contend with. Tight end Colby Parkinson could be a particular concern.

Stanford Offense

  • LT #75 Walter Rouse, Fr.
  • LG #78 Henry Hattis, Sr.
  • C #51 Drew Dalman, Jr.
  • RG #74 Devery Hamilton, Sr.
  • RT #79 Foster Sarell, Jr.
  • TE #84 Colby Parkinson, Jr.
  • WR #5 Connor Wedington, Jr.
  • WR #4 Michael Wilson, So.
  • FB #34 Houston Heimuli, Jr.
  • RB #22 Cameron Scarlett, RS-Sr.
  • QB #15 Davis Mills, Jr.

USC Defense

  • DE #89 Christian Rector, RS-Sr.
  • DT #78 Jay Tufele, RS-So.
  • NT #51 Marlon Tuipulotu, RS-So.
  • DE #99 Drake Jackson, Fr.
  • LB #31 Hunter Echols, RS-So.
  • LB #1 Palaie Gaoteote, So.
  • LB #10 John Houston, RS-Sr.
  • CB #2 Olaijah Griffin, So.
  • FS #21 Isaiah Pola-Mao, RS-So.
  • SS #15 Talanoa Hufanga, So.
  • NK #9 Greg Johnson, RS-So.
  • CB #6 Isaac Taylor-Stuart, RS-Fr.

Odds (USC -3):

Understandably it took a while for sportsbooks to set odds for the game, considering the injury situation at quarterback for both teams. Now that it is known K.J. Costello will miss out, the Trojans are three-point favorites over the Cardinal, according to BetOnline. That’s essentially a push, as traditionally the home team is given a three-point advantage. The over/under for the game is 43 points.