No. 16 Stanford looks for its first home win against USC since 2000 when the Trojans invade Stanford Stadium on Saturday.
Opening Number: 9.5
As in the point spread (for recreational purposes only) of Saturday's game. USC hasn't been that big of an underdog since 1998, when the Trojans were 13.5 point dogs against Florida State.
Players to Watch
Mike Morgan, USC LB: The senior and his fellow linebackers have underachieved this season, and have yet to produce an interception or force a fumble. Morgan told reporters earlier this week that he hasn't forgotten about last year's game and suggested the Cardinal "will have to pay" for Jim Harbaugh's infamous decision to go for two late in the game.
Robert Woods, USC KR: While he may be limited by a bruised thigh Saturday, freshman kick returner and wide receiver is one to watch when he's on the field.
Ryan Whalen, Stanford WR: Andrew Luck's most dependable receiver is expected to return after he dislocated his elbow against Wake Forest and missed the Cardinal's last two games. The Trojans' secondary is inexperienced, so look for Whalen to have a big day.
Richard Sherman, Stanford CB: Sherman, who missed Wednesday's practice, has played a big part in the Cardinal's last two wins against USC.
- "Two" -- As in "go for two," the symbol for which is not to be confused with USC's victory sign.
"Bowls Are For Salad" -- USC may be ineligible for postseason play, but as one entrepreuneurial blogger reminds us, you can't sanction the endzone.
- "Defense" -- Stanford's defense has a chance to make a statement against a talented quarterback in USC's Matt Barkley, while the Trojans' D is just hoping it stays this side of triple digits in the national rankings. (Monte Kiffin's unit currently ranks 99th.)
Additional Reading (For You Dedicated Students):
- The Daily Axe expects Stanford to approach last season's point total in a comfortable win.
- USC fullback Stanley Havili sums up Stanfords MO: "They're going to come out and butt us with their heads."
- Conquest Chronicles asks a couple of Stanford bloggers, including yours truly, about the Cardinal.
- Michael Lev breaks down the Trojans' defensive struggles.
- Jon Wilner is picking Stanford, but doesn't like the Cardinal to cover. John Tamahana, Stewart Mandel, all 5 CBS Sports experts, and all four Yahoo! experts all like Stanford to win. Ted Miller goes against the flow, and picks USC in the upset.
Closing Number: 4
As in the Cardinal's rank in scoring offense. Stanford has averaged more than 44 points per game.
Prediction: Stanford 45, USC 21. I think Luck has his way with the USC secondary, while the Stanford defense takes out its lingering anger from the Oregon loss and forces Matt Barkley into some early mistakes.