Stanford at USC
Saturday, Oct. 29, 5:00 PM (PST), on ABC
Game Prediction: USC 35, Stanford 24
This is one of the most important predictions of the season (OR/Stanford and USC/OR are the other two). Because these three teams are the most likely to win their Pac-12 divisions with reasonable odds (according to prognosticators, Pac-12 media, and Vegas odds). The other teams in the Pac-12 are not nearly as close.
Offense: USC should have the best offensive line in the Pac-12. Stanford is in the middle of the Pac. Andrew Luck is a slightly better quarterback than Matt Barkley, but these two are the best quarterbacks in the Pac-12 (along with Darron Thomas). Stanford has the edge in tight ends, but USC has a bigger margin with wide receivers and running backs. Both offensive lines are replacing three, but USC is replacing with three more talented blockers.
Stanford's offensive line will be facing a much more daunting task in staving off USC's ravenous defensive line than USC's O-line will have to face against Stanford's unit. ESPN analysts are questioning Stanford with "Andrew Luck and who?" I don't buy that—Stanford will still score plenty of points. The offensive edge is going to USC by a small margin.
Defense: Both teams have a strong linebacking crew; however, Stanford will miss Thomas Keiser and Owen Marecic. USC's defensive line is superior to Stanford's, who recently lost Sione Fua and Brian Bulcke. Stanford also will be adjusting to new defensive coordinator Derek Mason, who replaced Vic Fangio when he followed Jim Harbaugh to the San Francisco 49ers. USC also has the edge in the secondary where Stanford will miss cornerback Richard Sherman. The defensive edge goes to USC by a medium margin.
Coaching Staff: USC already went through the growing pains of adjusting to a new staff. Now it is Stanford's turn. This edge is a large margin for USC.
Home field advantage: USC
Winner: USC by 11.