2013 Game 11: Stanford vs. USC

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No. 4 Stanford Cardinal (8-1, 6-1) at USC Trojans (7-3, 4-2)

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum at 5 p.m. PT on ABC

murphy-stanford.jpgCardinal to Watch: Senior OLB Trent Murphy

Stanford has a plethora of eye-catching players including QB Kevin Hogan, RB Tyler Gaffney, WR Ty Montgomery and LB Shayne Skov, but Murphy is an irrepressible force.  Similar to USC's injured OLB Morgan Breslin, Murphy has an insatiable appetite for rushing the quarterback.  He is second in the nation with 10 sacks accounting for a third of Stanford's team total.  USC freshman LT Chad Wheeler will face his toughest test of the season.

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3 Keys

Move the Game Outside

All week, the focus has been on the line of scrimmage, and rightly so.  However, while Stanford must impose its will up front to win, the Trojans just need to do enough to let their advantage on the perimeter take hold.  The Cardinal do not have Marqise Lee or Nelson Agholor.  They also don't have anyone that can cover them if Cody Kessler has time to deliver the ball.  No. 9 is overdue for a big game, while No. 15 is in peak form.

Down and Distance

In a match-up of the best two pass rushes in the Pac-12, neither team is equipped to win this game in 3rd and long.  The Trojans' defense will need to stay out of short yardage situations in an effort to get off the field and avoid wearing down over the course of four quarters.  Stanford was doing everything but telling Oregon that the power run was coming, and the Ducks were powerless to stop it.  The Trojans' front seven will hit first, but need their legs to hit last.   

No Regrets

The last three meetings between these teams have come down to the final possession, but the Cardinal has prevailed each time.  In 2010, the clock operator forgot to start the time leaving Andrew Luck an extra possession to setup the winning kick.  In 2011, a triple overtime classic was teed up by a T.J. McDonald personal foul and ended on a Curtis McNeal fumble.  Last year, the Trojans failed to bury the Cardinal early only to be shattered at the end once more.  Assuming Saturday follows the pattern, kickers or mistakes will tell the final tale.

In 1995, Keyshawn Johnson caught the winning TD and sealed victory knocking down a Hail Mary.

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