The Stanford Cardinal will encounter their first real test of the season when they welcome the mighty USC Trojans to town this Saturday, a team that hasn't looked challenged at any point this season.
But maybe a road trip to Palo Alto is just the thing that will show us what the Trojans are worth in 2012.
Thus far, USC has outscored its opponents 91-39. Stanford hasn't missed a beat in the post-Andrew Luck era, either, posting wins over San Jose State and Duke in order to stick around in the Top 25.
But San Jose State and Duke were nothing like the test the Cardinal will face in their first Pac-12 matchup of the season. Here's where and when you can catch the action.
Where: Stanford Stadium, Stanford, Calif.
When: Saturday, Sept. 15 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: USCTrojans.com
Betting Line (via OddsShark): Stanford -9
USC Injury Report (via USA Today)
- Tight end Christian Thomas is day-to-day with an injured hip.
- Cornerback Brian Baucham suffered a concussion and is questionable.
- Center Khaled Holmes has been walking in a boot and is questionable.
- Defensive end Wes Horton is questionable with an injury that has not been released by the team.
- Cornerback Isiah Wiley is out for the season due to ineligibility.
- Defensive end Devon Kennard is out indefinitely with a torn pectoral.
- Defensive end DeVante Wilson is out with a torn ACL.
Stanford Injury Report (via USA Today)
- Fullback Ryan Hewitt is day-to-day with a sprained ankle.
- Fullback Geoff Meinken is out until mid-October with a knee injury.
- Tackle Cole Underwood is out for the season with a knee injury.
Stanford isn't quite at the point where it is considered a legitimate BCS contender, but a win over USC could go a long way toward establishing that as a possibility.
But it's important to keep in mind that that is a pretty substantial long shot, despite the fact that the Cardinal have beaten USC three consecutive times. This is the No. 2 team in the nation we're talking about, and a team that will remain a national championship contender unless it suffers a big, bad loss—like a loss to Stanford.
There aren't many who are expecting Stanford to contend for a berth in the BCS championship without Andrew Luck, but a home win over USC could put it in the mix for an upper-tier bowl game.
What They're Saying
Matt Barkley could have left USC for the NFL at the end of last season, but he didn't because he still felt as though he had more to prove. Apparently, what he wanted to prove is that he is 100 percent worthy of the No. 1 overall selection in the 2013 draft.
Barkley has been one of the most electrifying quarterbacks in the college ranks this season. After tossing a career-best six touchdowns against Syracuse last weekend, he has accumulated 559 yards, 10 TDs and a single interception. After just two weeks.
The big question is, can he keep it up against a non-cupcake opponent?
Stanford's QB doesn't look too shabby, either. Josh Nunes may not be Andrew Luck, but he certainly played like him against Duke on Saturday, throwing for 275 yards, three touchdowns and a single interception.
But the USC defense will be far different than what Nunes and Co. faced last weekend. For both Barkley and Nunes, it will be crucial to have a big game on Saturday. It will be a true test of how successful they can be this season, and whichever one loses is in for a wake-up call.
USC Player to Watch
Silas Redd had a big game last weekend against Syracuse, which can be partially attributed to the fact that it was a homecoming of sorts for him.
According to ESPNLosAngeles.com's Pedro Moura, the Penn State transplant had about 200 friends and family in attendance for the game against Syracuse, in which he registered 15 carries for 107 yards.
Even without the help of his personal home crowd, though, Redd has been more than able to make himself useful with the Trojans. In total, he's rushed for 163 yards and a touchdown, suitably complementing Barkley's passing game with a competent rushing attack.
We may be only two games in, but already, Redd is proving to be the Trojans' secret weapon.
Stanford Player to Watch
It wasn't just Stanford's offense that was rolling against Duke on Saturday: The defense wasn't too bad, either, forcing four Blue Devil turnovers.
Particularly significant was the play of sophomore safety Kyle Olugbode, who returned an interception 71 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to give the Cardinal a 43-6 lead.
Against a pass-heavy offense like USC's, the play of Stanford's secondary is going to be crucial this weekend. It could be the difference between a win and a loss. And if Olugbode has another game like the one he had against Duke, Stanford might actually have a chance.
The Trojans may historically be one of the strongest programs in college football, but you wouldn't know it by the way they've played against Stanford over the last few years.
The Cardinal haven't lost to USC since 2008, when the Trojans took them down 45-23 on the road. That season was full of disappointment: Stanford went 5-6, nobody knew who Andrew Luck was and a guy named Mark Sanchez was under center for USC.
Now, once again, the Cardinal will have to find a way to beat the Trojans and their superstar quarterback without Andrew Luck.
Prediction: USC Wins
They may have had the Trojans' number for the last three years, but this isn't the same Cardinal team we've gotten used to seeing of late, even though they have done a good job disguising it in the first two games of the season.
The Trojans offense, meanwhile, is proving nearly impossible to stop, and a road game against a Pac-12 opponent will be the perfect showcase for Barkley, Redd and Co. to make a big statement.
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