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The Cardinal (5-1, 2-1 Pac-10), coming off a 52-31 pounding at the hands of Oregon, bounced back by sending the Trojans (4-2, 1-2) to a similar fate, as Washington kicked a game-winning field goal at the buzzer to pull out a 32-31 win at the Coliseum last week.
Allen Bradford’s touchdown gave USC a 35-34 lead with 1:08 left on the clock, leaving plenty of time for Stanford to get into field goal range for Whitaker, who had missed a crucial extra point earlier in the fourth quarter.
Matt Barkley had a prolific day under center as well, completing 28-of-45 for 390 yards with three touchdowns to Robert Woods, who ended with an eye-popping 224 yards on 12 receptions in the loss.
The teams traded touchdowns early on in a tension-filled final stanza.
Konrad Reuland hauled in a two-yard touchdown pass from Luck on the second play from scrimmage for a 28-21 lead that lasted 3 1/2 minutes, as Barkley found Woods for a six-yard score to finish an eight-play, 67-yard drive.
Chris Owusu ran the ensuing kickoff back 88 yards, and a Luck-to-Baldwin connection from seven yards out gave Stanford the lead again. Whitaker, though, missed his third extra point of the season to keep it 34-28.
Four straight Barkley incompletions at the Stanford 32 turned the ball over on downs, but USC stripped Stepfan Taylor near midfield and recovered the fumble with 4:14 on the clock.
After converting a fourth-down try on the first set of downs, USC went ahead when Bradford rumbled in from three yards out with 1:08 showing.
Stanford started the game-winning trek at its own 26, and three straight completions and a 15-yard personal foul penalty on the Trojans quickly moved the ball to the USC 31. Taylor scampered for 16 yards down to the 15 with 16 seconds remaining, and after two runs, Whitaker was called on to complete the comeback with his first career game-winning kick.
Dillon Baxter capped USC’s first possession, an 11-play, 73-yard march, with an eight-yard run to the end zone.
Stanford needed just five plays to tie it, as Luck hit Baldwin for an 11-yard score at the 5:39 mark.
Luck lost a fumble deep in USC territory later in the opening quarter, and Stanley Havili returned the favor early in the second, coughing it up at the Stanford 14.
Anthony Wilkerson’s six-yard run gave the Cardinal a short-lived lead with 8 1/2 minutes to go in the half. Barkley drove USC right down the field and tied it on a six-yard connection with Woods.
Stanford broke the tie with a 14-play, 93-yard drive that took up 7 1/2 minutes in the third quarter. The Cardinal converted four third-downs, the last of which came on Taylor’s one-yard plunge on third-and-goal with 5:39 left in the frame.
Woods answered with a 61-yard catch-and-run just five plays later to tie it.
This was the first time since 1986 that Stanford came into this game ranked higher than USC…It is Stanford’s first back-to-back wins over USC since 1999-2001…The Cardinal are 14-2 in their last 16 home games…Bradford came into the game averaging 9.8 yards per carry, but was held to 33 yards on 13 carries…Taylor finished with 104 yards on 23 carries, while Baldwin had eight catches for 98 yards…Stanford converted 6-of-8 third down tries, compared to USC’s 9-of-15 success rate on the down…The sellout crowd of 51,607 is a new Stanford Stadium record.
The Cardinal and Trojan blogs on the SB Nation network, Rule of Tree (along with Go Mighty Card) and Conquest Chronicles, exchanged nochalant repartee about this weekend’s matchup in Palo Alto. Both see a triumphant Stanford walking off the field, particularly the Cardinal blogs.
ROT: I think Matt Barkley has some success moving the ball against Stanford and USC manages to keep things interesting for a half before the Trojans defense shows its true colors. I think Harbaugh might have a few surprises in store for Kiffin—perhaps a gadgety two-point conversion play?—and the Cardinal eventually pulls away in a high-scoring affair.
GMC: I don’t think the Cardinal will be feeling sorry for themselves after the Oregon game, I think they’ll be angry and looking to take it out on someone. Supporting this, Jim Harbaugh said this week that the team had the best Monday practice he’s seen since his arrival on the Farm. Also, the Cardinal should enjoy significant crowd support for the first time this season, as this will be their first home game with students in the stands. I expect a win. Stanford 38, USC 21
On paper, Stanford should roll over USC. They have the better coach, quarterback, and defense, so in all honesty, I don’t have much inclination to peg the Trojans as winners. But if it’s comforting in the slightest, the Cardinal run more of a pro-style offense, which should help to alleviate ‘SC’s defensive struggles against a spread attack. As a result, I look for this game to be a little closer, and low scoring, but should still result in a 34-21 victory for the Farm.
Click on the above links to see the entire interviews!
USC is getting ready for a showdown with the team that humiliated them in the Coliseum last season. However it’s hard to tell how much that’s motivating the Trojans in preparing for the Cardinal, as they have plenty of other problems to deal with. Ted Miller reports on this.
Yes, it was. So you’d expect the Trojans to be plenty motivated for their trip to Stanford on Saturday. But the plot twist for college football fans still smelling the fumes of the once feared Trojans juggernaut is this: It probably doesn’t matter.
USC, which is coming off a second consecutive loss to Washington, is no longer the Pac-10 bully. Last year’s result in the Coliseum wasn’t a sneak attack, it was a physical mismatch and Stanford was the bully. In fact, the 16th-ranked Cardinal are coming off a loss at Oregon. It might be the mad ones looking to make a statement.
Lane Kiffin himself is downplaying the revenge factor, probably because he wasn’t here for the game to begin with.
Neither Harbaugh nor new USC coach Lane Kiffin were eager to rehash the events of last year’s game.
“I think that has all been pretty well documented — that horse been beaten pretty well I think,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t think it couldn’t be any more irrelevant with what both teams are trying to accomplish in this game.”
Said Kiffin, “We’re not even going to talk about it. We have so many things we need to correct. We let a game get away from us that we should have won [Washington]. We’ve got a lot of stuff to work on. We’re really not worried about what happened last year.”
Both teams are coming off tough losses, so it’s understandable they wouldn’t be focused on such a benign issue. Yet you’d figure the Trojans players haven’t forgotten about the Cardinal seeming to run up the score, and they’d love to pay the favor back.
Luck’s primary receiver has said he will play. Luck’s most dangerous target seems less confident. Jon Wilner reports from the Cardinal practice.
Owusu and fellow WR Ryan Whalen practiced today, albeit in yellow jerseys (no contact).
Whalen (dislocated elbow) told me he would play — with no hint of doubt in his voice — but Owusu (blow to the head) wasn’t as definitive when asked by the Chron’s Tom FitzGerald.
Specifically, Owusu said he expected to play but would have to see “how my head clears.”
Harbaugh said Owusu was “progressing very well.”
Another note of concern is that one of the Cardinal’s best defensive backs could also be out of action.
- Cornerback Richard Sherman watched practice in a T shirt and shorts. Asked about Sherman’s situation, Harbaugh paused, then said: “No comment.”
I didn’t notice Sherman get hurt during the Oregon game. There could be any number of reasons that he didn’t practice today, and he could very well play Saturday, for all I know.
Matt Barkley’s job might have gotten a little easier.
The Cardinal will try to get back on track by beating the Trojans at home, but Andrew Luck might not have two of his best receivers at his disposal.