Posted on September 10, 2017, by Travis Pulver
After watching their team struggle against Western Michigan, USC Trojans fans had every reason to doubt whether their team was going to be a contender this season. In the end, they won by 18-points. But it took a 28-point fourth quarter and a few big plays to make it happen. If they came out and played Stanford the same way the outcome would probably not be in their favor. So, it’s a good thing the Trojans played a much better game.
So, it’s a good thing the Trojans played a much better game.
The Trojans knew that Stanford would lean on their running game after the Cardinal running backs tallied 287 yards on the ground against Rice the week before. Stanford knew that USC would try to win through the air. With a quarterback like Sam Darnold, who wouldn’t?
What the Cardinal defense didn’t realize is that the Trojans would try to beat them through the air— and on the ground.
“We beat them at their own game,” USC safety Chris Hawkins said (ESPN).
Stanford running back Bryce Love followed up his 13-carry, 180-yard performance (and one touchdown) against Rice with another solid effort (17 carries for 160 yards and a touchdown). But the day belonged to the USC backfield. Stephen Carr ran for 119 yards and Ronald Jones II accounted for 116 yards and two touchdowns.
Stanford head coach David Shaw gave credit where it was due after the game.
“Their offensive line played extremely well,” Shaw said (ESPN). “I thought we ran it pretty well. They ran it better than we did. Not used to saying things like that, so all the credit goes to them.”
Darnold did his part for the Trojans completing 21 of 26 passes for 316 yards and four touchdowns. However, he also threw two interceptions bringing his season total to four. He didn’t throw his fourth last season until his fifth start (against Oregon on 11/5).
USC ended up racking up 623 yards on the night. It was the most a Stanford defense has ever given up under head coach David Shaw. Stanford had won eight of the last 11 meetings between the two including the last three. As important as winning games against rivals can be, Stanford is determined not to let this loss define their season.
“Honestly, though, this could be the best thing that happens to our team,” Stanford safety Justin Reid said (ESPN). “We’re going to let this feeling sit in our mouth for the rest of the season because we don’t ever want to go through this again.”
Ronald Jones II brought an end to the scoring with a 23-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to make the final score 42-24.
Stanford has an easier game next week against San Diego State (kickoff at 10:30 PM ET). But they will have a tough one on their hands the following week against Josh Rosen and UCLA. The Trojans will face Texas for the first time since the 2005 BCS Championship game (kickoff at 8:30 PM ET).