USC Football Heads To Stanford To Open Pac-12 Play|
Aug. 31, 2014
The first Pac-12 game of 2014 is a dandy: No. 15 USC goes on the road for the first time this year and faces 2-time defending Pac-12 champion No. 11 Stanford. The Cardinal is Troy's oldest rival (the first game was in 1905). Last year's game saw the Trojans pull out a thrilling last-second victory over No. 5 Stanford, as USC fans rushed the Coliseum field. But not only has the Cardinal won 5 of the last 7 matchups between the teams, USC is barely over .500 in its past 11 trips to Palo Alto and the Trojans have won only a third of the time against ranked Stanford squads. Troy is hoping to continue the mojo of last Saturday, as the Steve Sarkisian era got off to a rousing start with a home rout over Fresno State. QB Cody Kessler (394 passing yards with 4 TDs) directed an up-tempo USC offense that set a Pac-12 record for plays (105) while rolling up 701 yards and 37 first downs. WR Nelson Agholor had 2 TD grabs and TB Javorius Allen ran for 133 yards. The USC defense, behind the play of All-American DE Leonard Williams and 2-year tackle leader ILB Hayes Pullard, came up with 4 interceptions while limiting Fresno State to 13 points and 317 total yards. USC's touted true freshmen played key roles (11 played in the game), as CB-WR Adoree' Jackson was a 3-way player, WR-S JuJu Smith had 123 receiving yards, OGs Toa Lobendahn and Damien Mama became the first Trojan frosh pair to start an opener on the line and TE Bryce Dixon caught a TD. The NCAA sanction-free Trojans still have a limited roster (67 recruited scholarship players, with only 62 currently available to play and only 57 of those healthy for the opener). Stanford, under head coach David Shaw (whose uncle was an All-American cornerback and then assistant coach at USC), has seen his team win 2 consecutive league championships and string together a 16-game home winning streak, including an opening shutout over FCS foe UC Davis this past weekend. The Cardinal offense, led by 3-year starting QB Kevin Hogan, features WR Ty Montgomery, also a dangerous return specialist, and a runner who is the son of a Heisman winner (TB Barry Sanders). The Stanford offensive line consists of all juniors, including OT Andrus Peat, while the retooled defense is guided by veterans such as DE Henry Anderson, CB Wayne Lyons and S Jordan Richards. PK Jordan Williamson is the school's career point scorer. The game will air live nationally on ABC.