In a rematch from a blowout game nearly three months ago, (14)Stanford and (11)USC will meet in the Pac-12 Championship Game in Santa Clara on Friday night. Levi’s Stadium, home of the 49ers, will showcase this match-up between the two top-25 ranked teams. The game also features two Heisman hopefuls, one in Sam Darnold who didn’t quite live up to Heisman expectations this season. The other, Bryce Love, wasn’t on anyone’s Heisman radar at the start of the season as he was 200-1 to win the trophy before the season started. It’s no secret that Bryce Love is nursing an ankle injury. His production has slowed down, but he’s a game-changer to be sure, and will play a key role in determining if the Cardinal bring home the gold this week. Before we predict what happens Friday, let’s delve into the first meeting between the teams, back on September 9 in LA.
Stanford vs. USC Pac-12 Championship Game Preview
Date/Time: Friday, December 1st at 8:00pm EST
College Football Betting Odds from 5Dimes
College Football Betting Favorite: USC -4
USC absolutely routed Stanford 42-24 in their first meeting, with USC racking up 623 total yards. That’s the most ever given up by a David Shaw-coached Stanford team. The Trojans ran the ball for 307 yards against the vaunted Stanford defense, and Sam Darnold looked smooth as silk throwing four TD passes. Bryce Love ran for 160 yards and a 75-yard TD run. The Cardinal were on an 8-3 ATS run against USC previous to this blowout. Stanford ended up losing the next week to SDSU, then won 8 of 9 games to bring us to this week. There is no doubt this game was the worst loss of the year for Stanford, and suffice to say Coach Shaw spent the whole season motivating his team with the results from this game. This is the rare chance for same-season revenge.
Both squads are coming off emotional wins, however USC did get a bye this past weekend. Stanford upset Notre Dame 38-20 but looked like they should have been the favored team. USC outdueled crosstown rival UCLA 28-23, in one of those “throw out the record” games as on any given Saturday, either team could top the other.
The Numbers Game
USC has the #2 ranked total offense in the Pac-12, garnering 488.6 ypg and averaging 6.62 ypp. Stanford’s total offense is ranked #10 in the Pac-12 with 394.1 ypg and 6.55 ypp. On the defensive side, USC is ranked #6 in the Pac-12, giving up 409.9 ypg. Stanford’s defense is one notch better, ranked #5 and giving up 390.3 ypg. When we look at red zone offense, Stanford’s percentage of scoring is quite a bit higher than USC. The Cardinal have the #33 ranked red zone offense, scoring 88.6% of the time they make it inside the red zone. USC is way down at #114 in the country, scoring at 74.4% of the time. This is a key stat in what will be most likely a defensive battle. Stanford’s defense is also giving up 20.7 ppg, while USC is giving up almost six more points per game, with their defense allowing 26.1 ppg.
Sin City Sharp (@SinCitySharp on Twitter) Free Pick:
Stanford Safety Justin Reid might have had the best quote, after their loss to USC early in the season. “This will be motivation for us the rest of the year. We’re going to let this feeling sit in our mouths for the rest of the season because we don’t ever want to go through this again. We are a team that has motivation and we’re going to use it to drive us the rest of the year so that way nobody takes a play off, no one takes a practice off (and) we will be driven for the rest of the year to go out and accomplish what we intend to do. So that we don’t have this feeling again.”
“They just came out better than us today,” said redshirt Junior defensive tackle Harrison Phillips. “We definitely got their best. We have a lot to improve on and a lot of weeks to get there. We’ll see who is the better team at the end of the season.”
Coach David Shaw has assuredly used this loss to USC as a motivating factor all season. There’s zero doubt Stanford forgot about this blowout loss, and they now have their chance to make it right. Sin City Sharp sees this game coming down to the wire, in a tight defensive battle that will probably be decided in the last two minutes. Stanford comes away with the win and gets revenge on the men of Troy. We are catching more than a field goal.
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