No. 2 USC Football Opens Pac-12 Play At Stanford
No. 2 USC plays the first Pac-12 game of 2012 when it travels to face longtime foe and recent nemesis No. 21 Stanford. The Cardinal is Troy's oldest current rival (the first game was in 1905). The Trojans have dropped 3 in a row to Stanford (USC has never lost 4 straight to the Cardinal) and 4 of the past 5 contests, including last year's triple overtime classic and at the gun in 2010. It is USC's second of 4 road games in a 5-game span. The Trojans traditionally haven't fared well against ranked Stanford squads. USC, which has scored at least 30 points in its past 10 games, is 12th nationally in scoring offense after its pull-away-in-the-fourth-quarter win over Syracuse last Saturday on the East Coast.
USC QB Matt Barkley, the leading contender for the Heisman Trophy whose 10 TD passes this year are a national best, is closing in on the Pac-12 all-time touchdown pass record, as well as USC's passing and total offense career marks. All-American WR Robert Woods, coming off a huge game last weekend, is quickly moving up Troy's pass catching ladder, while fellow WR Marqise Lee is in the national Top 6 in receptions, receiving yards, all-purpose yards, scoring and kickoff returns. The Biletnikoff Award candidates are the only USC duo with double digit receptions in a game, having done so for the second time last weekend against Syracuse. Penn State transfer Silas Redd had his first 100-yard rushing game as a Trojan last Saturday and joins with fellow 2011 1,000-yard TB Curtis McNeal to bolster the USC ground attack.
The Trojan defense, although surrendering lots of yards to the pass-happy Orange, is in the NCAA's Top 10 in turnover margin. Top defenders wearing cardinal and gold include All-American S T.J. McDonald and CB Nickell Robey (both are Thorpe Award candidates), along with 2011 Freshman All-American LBs Dion Bailey (he had 2 picks against Syracuse) and Hayes Pullard.
Stanford, led by head coach David Shaw (whose uncle was an All-American at USC), is coming off an easy home victory over Duke. The Cardinal offense is guided by new QB Josh Nunes and RB Stepfan Taylor, who is third on the school's career rushing, rushing TDs and 100-yard rushing games lists. The defense, fifth nationally in turnover margin and sixth in rushing defense, includes the likes of OLB Chase Thomas, a 2011 All-American and All-Pac-12 first teamer, along with DB Usua Amanam, ILB Shayne Skov, SS Jordan Richards and FS Ed Reynolds, the nation's interception leader. WR Drew Terrell is a dangerous punt returner, while PK Jordan Williamson is the nation's No. 3 field goal kicker this week.
The game will be shown live nationally on FOX. USC's top-ranked, 4-time defending NCAA champion men's water polo team will be playing in the NorCal Tournament over the weekend in Palo Alto.