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Stanford football 2015: Stanford and USC preview

The Stanford defense will be physical, but which Kevin Hogan shows up in Los Angeles may be the key to victory Saturday night.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Stanford looks to return the favor for their home loss to USC last season when they travel to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for this Pac-12 showdown.

Both teams hope to represent their respective North and South division in the Pac-12 Championship game in Santa Clara this year. A win could be a huge statement, particularly for Stanford, with most experts predicting USC as the favorite in the ever-competitive Pac-12.

We have seen some flashes of brilliance from USC, but not enough to crown them this early in the season. Although they have obliterated both of their first two opponents: Arkansas State and Idaho, USC is still a bit of mystery.

Stanford has much to prove coming into this game after losing the opener against a now ranked but very beatable Northwestern team in which the offense failed to find the end zone. The Cardinal attack rebounded by beating UCF last week, but a win Saturday over the heavily favored Trojans could catapult them back onto the national radar.

Stanford may be the most physical team on USC's schedule, which could lead to some issues for the Trojans. Look for linebackers Blake Martinez, Kevin Anderson, and Peter Kalambayi to hit the Trojans early and often in order to set the tone.

The key for Stanford is the play of Senior Quarterback Kevin Hogan. If he plays like he did last week, they have a fighting chance and could walk away with a win. However, a performance like his game in the opener will have Stanford playing catch up and out of the game early. But with this easily being one of the biggest games of Hogan's senior campaign, let's see how he and the Cardinal offense respond.