A week ago, if you asked me who would win between USC and Stanford, I would've picked USC in a nail biter, and if you asked me before Stanford's season opener against Rice, I would've picked USC to cruise to a victory. However, after seeing both teams play one game, I'm confident the Cardinal will defeat the Trojans. Here's why:
The final score of the USC game is deceiving
USC was playing catch up with Western Michigan the entire game and didn't break away until the final few minutes. The final score was 49-31, but it felt like USC only won by a touchdown. Western Michigan controlled the clock and led for the majority of the game.
And Western Michigan is not the New Year's Six team they were last year. They lost their head coach, their quarterback, and their all-american receiver. Western Michigan is a team that should've been put away easily and quickly.
The Trojan defense can't stop the run
The Western Michigan Broncos ran all over the Trojans, totaling 263 yards and averaging 5.5 yards per carry, and it's not like the Broncos are known as great run team; last year, they depended on their passing game. The USC defense couldn't wrap up and were pushed around by the Western Michigan offensive line.
Stanford has a much better offensive line and rush game than Western Michigan. The Cardinal will be more physical than the Broncos, and if Western Michigan could run on USC, Stanford will undoubtedly do the same. Bryce Love could lead the Cardinal to victory with a big day.
Sam Darnold is overrated
I kinda feel bad for Sam Darnold. USC fans expect him to win the Heisman and return the Trojans to greatness, and anything less will be considered a failure. However after seeing his game versus Western Michigan, all signs indicate he's not as good as everyone thought.
Sam Darnold wasn't terrible, but he wasn't the reason USC won the game. He threw two interceptions, although he's only accountable for one, and he didn't throw a single touchdown. It seemed like Darnold kept throwing off his back foot and into coverage, and his passes always looked like they were up for grabs.
Maybe, it's the receivers that made Sam Darnold look bad. Maybe, they couldn't get open, and Sam Darnold was forced to make bad throws. Remember, Sam Darnold does not have the same targets he had last year; Darreus Rogers and JuJu Smith-Schuster are no longer a part of the team. With new receivers, Sam Darnold and the USC passing game is not as effective as they were in 2016.
Stanford looks better than expected
After the Rice game, Christian McCaffrey became an after thought, Keller Chryst's health is no longer worrisome, and the Cardinal defense gained needed confidence. This year's team appears to be in midseason form and deserves a better ranking than 14.
My grandpa is the biggest USC fan I know, and after the opening weekend, he is picking Stanford to win next week, and I agree with him. Don't get me wrong, USC is good, but Stanford just looks better.
This game won't be a blowout; it'll be competitive, but I'm going to pick Stanford to win by a touchdown. Final score: 31-24