This game was one to forget for Trojan fans last year. A truly miraculous win for Stanford and their football program. What about this year?
Well, I think it's clear that they are a better football team, with a respectable 5-5 record that includes an eight-point win over Oregon State. You might think, then, that I'd come into this preview with some caution. Not a chance.
Something tells me that Pete Carroll will find a way to harness all the talent around him. The offense has flashed it in bursts. The defense has flashed it consistently. And for the most part, the effort on both sides has been led by USC's seniors.
A handful of names off the top of my head? Brian Cushing, Rey Maualuga, Fili Moala, Kyle Moore, Josh Pinkard, Clay Matthews, Patrick Turner, Cary Harris, Jeff Byers, Kaluka Maiava, David Buehler. These aren't just our seniors. They're our consistent MVP's.
Younger, maybe even more talented, players (ie. Sanchez, Joe McKnight, Everson Griffen) haven't proven themselves as consistent performers yet.
It's that senior factor that I think will help the Trojans finish strong. Particularly in this game, where Pete and his guys will be as jacked as up as ever to embarrass Jim Harbaugh's Cardinal team at home. Remember, this will probably be their most attended game of the year.
Looking at the X's & O's, I think our passing attack has a chance to get back in rhythm vs. Stanford's 98th-ranked pass defense. Their safeties play far off the line of the scrimmage, in a similar fashion to Taylor Mays and Will Harris (Ellison is out with knee injury).
That should give Patrick and Damian room to work inside. Dare I say the tight ends finally get in on the action as well. We'll see.
The running backs should watch out for MLB Pat Maynor. He and safety Bo McNally are tackling machines.
However, those guys could get blocked out if the Trojans can dominate their d-line like I feel they should.
Tavita Pritchard is Stanford's QB, but we may see some of Alex Loukas. He's more of a runner than Pritchard, who is a respectable runner in his own right.
In the passing department, they lack efficiency, especially for a team that likes to throw as many short routes as they do. Those quick hitters can be effective against our defense. Whalen (WR) , Baldwin (WR), Gunder (TE), and Kimble (TB) are the names to watch for on the receiving end.
Aforementioned Anthony Kimble reminds me of Stafon Johnson with his shifty running style. Toby Gerhart is the main tailback, however, because of his size and strength.
Those guys will be running behind a line that will benefit from a banged up Trojan d-line. Moala is questionable with a groin injury and Spicer is probable with an ankle injury.
I hope that gives reps to some young talent, like Malik Jackson and Armond Armstead, should we build a lead in the second half.
SCORE PREDICTION: USC 45, Stanford 6
See you for the live blog.
This article was originally published on USCBlitz.com