1. Will we see an impact on the field Saturday as a result of the Helton announcement? If so what might that impact look like?
There will definitely be a lot of emotion from USC due to Helton's hire. There's a lot more on the line for this team as they'll be playing for their teammates, revenge, a Conference championship, and their new head coach.
2. In comparing this Saturday's game to the last meeting in September what differences or changes should we expect this time around that we didn't see last time?
Expect USC to really take advantage of this troubled secondary. As of right now Harris and Holder are questionable and if they don't play, Juju Smith-Schuster and Cody Kessler could really light them up on the outside. USC is also averaging 194 yards a game on the ground in the past four games and they will challenge Stanford's front seven early. I think USC Trojan's defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox will keep in mind what these receivers and McCaffrey did to this defense and will take note of how Notre Dame limited the Pac-12 new All-Purpose yards record holder.
3. Stanford's secondary is a little strained lately, and the likes of Notre Dame's Will Fuller or the Cal Air Raid have been able to take advantage. Cody Kessler and the USC Wide Receivers, however, were less than impressive against Oregon's weak secondary, how do you see this matchup playing out?
Oregon's defense has overall stepped up tremendously since Arizona State and have gained momentum going into that USC game. Smith-Schuster was unhealthy and the rest of the receivers failed to rise against the Ducks. This weekend I see Kessler letting it rip to his receivers and will make the plays necessary to keep drives alive to control the time of possession.
4. How is USC's red zone offense? Stanford's red zone defense has been phenomenal, will USC be able to get the ball across the goal line or have they had their red zone struggles?
USC's redzone offense has stepped it up a notch, really opening up the playbook on opponents. USC will be able to get the ball into the end zone, especially with advantages on the Stanford secondary. With Zach Banner ringing the bell late this year and leading his offensive line in the trenches, I expect the Trojans to also run behind the big man for key scores.
5. Containing Christian McCaffrey is essential in beating Stanford, can the Trojan's rushing defense slow him down?
If the Trojans' middle linebackers step up and read the guard's pull they can very well contain McCaffrey. Notre Dame did a great job containing McCaffrey on offense and USC will have to play with the same tenacity to do the same.
6. Which USC secondary will we see on Saturday? The one that was torched by Oregon? Or the one that impressed against UCLA?
I think we will see a USC secondary that has learned how to communicate and actually play man to man coverage against big receivers. UCLA playmakers Thomas Duarte and Jordan Payton were huge tests for this USC secondary and they played fairly well against them. If USC can continue and produce turnovers throughout the air, it can very well make this Stanford offense one-dimensional.
7. In certain spots Kevin Hogan and the Stanford offense have looked unimpressive when opposing defenses bring pressure, but until the UCLA game USC almost never blitzed. Will the USC defense actually bring pressure this game?
It's all about adjustments with this team, that's been the key in their 5-2 record under Helton. IF USC plays in a defense that can not allow Stanford to have five-plus minute drives every time they get the ball back, plug gaps, and not allow Hogan to scramble or get the ball off with a lot of time, then USC will keep Hogan and company on their toes. I say USC will mix up the pressure while also disguising their coverages in the secondary.
8. Anything else we should know? Do you have a prediction?
I think USC will take this one by a touchdown or less. The game will be won at the line of scrimmage and I expect an inspired USC to find a way to get it done on both sides of the ball.