1 - The Cardinal could not get consistent pressure against USC quarterback Sam Darnold and he picked them apart. Even the very few times that the Cardinal broke through the line, Sam Darnold would shift and side step his way to another completion. He sat back and picked apart the the Stanford defense without pressure ever being established. He tore into the Cardnial defense to the tune of 316 yards and four touchdowns with a pair of picks.
2 - The Stanford offense doggedly stuck with the run, when the pass was what they needed to comeback. Keller Chryst had a solid game, throwing for 176 yards and two touchdowns. While the running game had sparks, most notably the 75-yard touchdown run from Bryce Love, however, the USC defense had the running game figured out in the second half. The Cardinal did not adjust or throw in creativity with the offense.
For both teams, this was a revealing game and we learned about both teams. There are some things to take away from both that could very well carry through the season.
Can the Trojans receivers bounce back and start to play at a higher level? Deontay Burnett had 121 yards and two touchdowns while Steven Mitchell Jr. also snagged two touchdowns. The emphasis was the passing attack but the entire squad looked crisp and more focused. Maybe game one was just some Rose Bowl hangover, but they tackled far better, had penetration into the Stanford backfield and held their running game in check. On offense the team made plays down the field and ran the ball well in a balanced format with Ronald Jones II. The Trojans definitely tightened things up in the week leading up to the Stanford game.
The Cardinal showed that when they cannot dictate the pace of the game, they really struggle switching gears. They could not capitalize on the turnovers to really hurt the Trojans and had trouble finding a rhythm on the ground. They had some nice drives passing the ball but failed to stick with it. This is one of the best teams they will play all season, but the Cardinal will have trouble all season if their pass rush is as anemic as it was Saturday.
The Cardinal have the concerns they entered the season with while USC looked to return to elite form.