From: “Why Stanford will beat USC”
“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.”
Expect big plays from Darnold but also turnovers thanks to Stanford's talented secondary; Stanford ultimately winning due to more disciplined play with a diverse playbook utilizing Love/Scarlett in the running game, JJ/Irwin for the long threat, and the tight ends for intermediate threat.
The Meeks/ Holder connection will lead the best secondary that USC will face all season. Taking into account that USC is a notoriously slow starter, and remembering that Stanford won by 3 scores last season, I expect Darnold to stumble in his first real test under the bright lights. Look for the O-LIne to establish an early presence against the middle of SC's defense, taking advantage of the weakness WMU uncovered in week 1. Darnold throws two picks, Stanford rolls to a 42-27 final.”
From: “Previewing Stanford vs USC”
“Keller Chryst will be the biggest x factor in this game. He's undefeated as a starter, but he's also never faced a top 25 team. USC will be by far his biggest test yet.
Some guys perform better in big games. Some guys choke under pressure. With Keller Chryst, we'll find out Saturday. However, Stanford doesn't need Keller Chryst to have a career game. The run game can lead the Cardinal to victory, so Chryst just needs to avoid turnovers and big mistakes.”
“F/+ is a combination of Bill Connelly's S&P+ and Brian Fremeau's FEI ratings. The ratings are usually pretty solid in factoring all the many variables involved in ranking college football teams that have a relatively low level of common opponents.
F/+ does not predict a final score, but does give an expected margin. F/+ likes USC by 3 points.
The F/+ ratings list Stanford # 8 and USC # 6.
Football Outsiders site only lists the ratings in order, but Bill Connelly posts predictions on SB Nation.
Bill's S&P+ picks predicts The Trojans by 4 points (winning 30.9-26.8) and gives USC a win probability of 59.4%. Connelly picks Stanford at +5 1⁄2 to cover the Vegas spread.”
“the Cardinal return eight starters on both sides of the ball, and they appear to have a new star in the backfield in Bryce Love who rushed for 180 yards and a touchdown on just 13 carries in last Thursday's 62-7 win over Rice. Stanford is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 games as an underdog and 6-2 SU in its last eight games as one.
Saturday's total is set at 56 points. The OVER is 4-1 in Stanford's last five games and 3-0 in USC's last three games.
The spread in this game indicates that bettors aren't too concerned with the Trojans' rocky start to the season last week. While it is wise not to overreact to one bad game, it would also be wise not to overlook the Cardinal. Stanford breezed to an easy victory and got an extra two days of rest and preparation before this matchup, which should be a good one between two of the Pac-12's best.”