I haven’t met many kids from California at my college in rural Virginia. Kids here mostly come from Mississippi, Maryland, Alabama, and Texas, but we all have one thing in common: our love for college football.
Kids here know little about Stanford football, which partially explains why so many Stanford greats were robbed of the Heisman in recent years. In this part of the country, SEC is king, and by the time Stanford plays, people are out enjoying their Saturday nights. At 8:30 my time tomorrow night, Stanford faces USC. I’ll be watching alone.
I wouldn’t miss this game for the world. It’ll be an entertaining game. I’ll reconnect with my friends from USC back home. And it’ll be a game where anything can (and often does) happen.
USC QB JT Daniels is the real deal. He won’t be fazed by high pressure moments early on. At his high school, Mater Dei, Daniels played plenty of big games in big stadiums, some of which are larger than Stanford Stadium. Plus, his high school buddy and main target Amon-Ra St. Brown joined him at USC. With Tyler Vaughns and Michael Pittman at his disposal, the USC passing game is downright scary.
Luckily, Alijah Holder returns this week for the Cardinal, but the Cardinal secondary will definitely need to step up. Against SDSU, Christian Chapman missed a couple easy passes; Daniels won’t miss an open receiver.
The Trojans have a balanced passing and rushing attack. Stephen Carr finished with only 54 yards against UNLV, but that was a fluke. Last year, Carr tore up Stanford in the first matchup, and he could very well do it again tomorrow. If I had to pick someone as a dark horse candidate for Heisman, Carr would be my guy. Next season, he’ll be a preseason favorite.
Lance Anderson will most likely come into this game realizing that he can’t stack the box or add an extra player in the secondary. USC doesn’t have a true weakness on offense, and the Stanford defense will need to play them honestly.
Similarly, USC will need to respect Stanford’s passing attack after seeing Costello and Arcega-Whiteside dominate the SDSU game. The USC corners are short and quick, so with his height, Arcega-Whiteside will be set up for another monster game, which ultimately will allow Love to get his Heisman campaign going. Yes, Love will have to get through stud linebackers Cameron Smith and Porter Gustin, but both players are bruisers and will also need to focus on Stanford’s tight ends in addition to stopping Love. Love should have no trouble getting past the second level and starting his 2018 Heisman campaign.
Don’t read into USC’s poor first half performance versus UNLV last week. Remember they had a bad game last season versus Western Michigan before rebounding the next week versus Stanford.
As for the Cardinal, they’re looking to avoid three straight losses versus the Trojans, and ultimately, I believe coaching will be the deciding factor in this game. Clay Helton is a good coach, but at the end of the day, USC fans would probably rather have David Shaw leading their team. I’m picking Stanford to win 38-34 in a nail-biter.