Stanford and USC meet for one of the most anticipated matchups of Week 2 on the college football schedule. Ten years ago to this weekend, Stanford pulled off the unthinkable, beating USC as 41-point underdogs at the Coliseum. This is truly the game that put Stanford on the map. Before 2017 nobody associated football with Stanford University.
Ten years later, and major accomplishments along the way, including the Andrew Luck era and a Rose Bowl, Stanford is a significant player on the college football stage. Stanford went 10-3 last season, capping it off with a win over North Carolina in the Sun Bowl. That game become known as the Christian McCaffrey-gate game. Well, not really, but there were some people not too excited to see McCaffrey sit the bowl game out.
McCaffrey went on to get drafted by the Carolina Panthers, and will be a solid contributor in his rookie season, so all is well. Stanford is always good at producing talented runners behind a strong offensive line. Even when Luck was the quarterback, Stanford was a run-first team that liked to smash the ball down team’s throats. Jim Harbaugh left for the NFL, and then to Michigan, but the mantra remains the same at Stanford.
The Cardinal blew a hole right through Rice in Australia last week. It was expected, and they made it look easy. Stanford rushed for 5 touchdowns, led by a 180-yard effort by Bryce Love. Love will fill-in nicely for McCaffrey, and will continue to put up large numbers all season long. The Stanford offensive line is anchored by four returning starters, all with lots of experience.
While Stanford’s trip to Australia felt like a walk in the park, USC was in a dog fight against the visiting Western Michigan Broncos. The game was closer than the score indicated, and I feel that the Broncos were the better team for the majority of the contest. If it weren’t for a good USC offense they lose that game. Western Michigan did whatever they wanted to on the ground. It wasn’t a good look for a team who wanted to come out and make a statement in Week 1. Big matchup tonight. Don’t miss out in Pasadena. Get our free college football pick for Stanford and USC below.
Stanford Cardinal vs. USC Trojans Betting Odds:
vs. USC -5.5(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Stanford vs. USC Pick:
No secret what Stanford is going to do in this game, they’re going to pound the ball with Love and try to wear out the Trojans. If this game was last week, Stanford would have won, but USC does have a weak to work out some kinks on their defense. Will they be able to, though? They knew what was coming against Western Michigan and they weren’t able to put up any resistance. Now they get a better offensive line to deal with in Week 2.
Keller Cryst didn’t have to do much, but he threw for 2 touchdowns and 253 yards anyway. Stanford quarterbacks can be sneaky good. They often don’t throw for 400 yards and 4 touchdowns, but it’s because they don’t have to with the running game. However, the last three starting quarterbacks: Andrew Luck, Kevin Hogan, and Cryst all know how to protect the football and limit mistakes. Cryst threw for 10 touchdowns with only 2 interceptions in 2016 and should put up some nice numbers in 2017.
LeVante Bellamy rushed for 102 yards on only 9 attempts against USC. As a team, Western rushed for 263 yards on the useless Trojan run stoppers. Stanford is on a three-game winning streak against USC. We have to go all the way back to 2008 in a revenge game for that loss in 2007, to find the last time USC beat Stanford by more than 3 points.
The rushing attack of Stanford should be enough to keep them within 5 points here. The only thing preventing me from going heavy on this game is the fact that Stanford were in Australia for their opener. Could they come out playing lazy football? The Cardinal are one of the few teams I trust to avoid something like that, though. They’ll be amped up for another marquee matchup against USC. I would take the points on this pick, in a game that could go either way by a field goal.
PICK: STANFORD +5.5 (-110)