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USC vs. Stanford
Betting Line: Stanford -9 o/u 59.5
The Stanford Cardinal looked like BCS Title contender last week; at least for
a single half. They came out firing to take a 31-24 lead by half time. Sadly for
fans of Stanford, Oregon won 52-31 as the Ducks defense shut their team out in
the second half. They are still in the hunt for the Pacific 10 title, but from
here on out there is minimal room for error.
They will host the USC Trojans this
week. The Trojans enter this game after suffering a heart breaking 32-31 loss to
Washington for the second consecutive year. Which team will be able to stop the
bleeding and not lose two weeks in a row? Let's analyze the matchup and find
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Andrew Luck allowed himself to be rattled against Oregon. The superstar QB threw 2 TDs, 2 INTs and 341 yards. It was only a few key mistakes that cost him. It's not just about how he plays though. Luck is the leader of the offense. They were like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the first and second halves. They couldn't be stopped, and then they couldn't score to save their lives. It ups to Luck to make sure they get points on the board. He's a duel threat to throw or pass and when he brings his A game Stanford is going to win more times than not.
Sophomore RB Stepfan Taylor has picked his game up monumentally in the past two weeks. So far on the year he has 265 yards on 59 carries and a TD. If he continues to play well Stanford will have yet another weapon. WR Doug Baldwin is Luck's homerun threat. He has been a little quiet so far this year. His team needs him to step it up. There is no time like the present for him to do so. The offensive line has been top notch. Combined with Luck's foot speed, it is they who have allowed him to be sacked just once this season.
The USC offense starts with QB Matt Barkley. The sophomore has great poise for a kid starting for the second year. He's made big improvements since his freshman year and he is responding for HC Lane Kiffin. He's racked up 1,127 yards and 12 TDs in this young season. He was largely ineffective against Washington, so expect him to come out with fire in his eyes after failing to help his team in a close loss. The RB combo of Marc Tyler and Allen Bradford has been potent. They have combined to pick up 580 yards and 4 TDs in 2010. WR Doug Baldwin has 15 catches for 255 yards and 3 TDs. He is one of Barkley's best threats at the WR position.
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Stanford's defense has been nasty, minus a 52 point lapse against the Oregon Ducks. The Quack Attack picked them to pieces. They have sacked opposing QBs 15 times, but failed to get to the Oregon QB even once. USC has a strong offensive line and Stanford has to assert dominance in the trenches early in the game. HC Harbough would be wise to keep pressure on QB Matt Barkley. This defense can give the young but experienced QB trouble.
The USC defense had trouble with Jake Locker. Andrew Luck can do some work on his feet too, but he is nothing like Locker when it comes to running the ball. The Trojans defense will have to center their efforts around stopping Luck. Can they shut him down in a home game where both teams desperately crave a PAC 10 win? They have failed to do well against top offenses this year so Stanford will be a true challenge for the Trojans on defense.
Who would have thought we'd see USC as a 10 point dog to Stanford any time soon? It's hard for us to imagine a shift in talent this great in such a short time. If you look at the series over the last decade, you find some one sided USC blowouts, a couple of close games, and then last years 55-21 Stanford win. The thing is, we know USC is still loaded with talent. But they have had some very mediocre results so far this year.
We'd caution against falling in love with Stanford at this point as well. Wake Forest, Sacramento State, Notre Dame and UCLA are hardly the cream of the crop of college football. The one chance they had to step up to the big time, they were plastered.
The tables are certainly turned here and we get to see how USC performs as a
sizable dog. The lightening fast Stanford start combined with the lackluster USC
start have combined to create some value in this one as we simply don't feel the
talent gap is as wide as the line indicates. USC should be a very capable dog
here so we'll grab the points. USC +10