Pick – Analysis
It’s already the third week of the college football season and that means Pac-12 play gets underway. Stanford hasn’t had the best start to its season, but will try and upset USC, who hasn’t really had a test yet. With the Cardinal’s slow start, the Trojans are up to a -10 point favorite at home (at 5 Dimes).
Stanford started the season ranked in the Top 25, but after a disappointing 16-6 loss at Northwestern as a 10-point favorite, expectations have been tempered. The Cardinal were expected to drop off, but maybe not as much as a loss to the Wildcats. There are problems for this team on both sides of the ball due to a lot of new faces. The defense looks to have dropped off a bit and the offense still doesn’t have the type of ground Game to help quarterback Kevin Hogan.
This matchup finished 13-10 in favor of USC last year, but it’s hard to see that happening again. The Trojans are more experienced all around and their offense will be problematic for Stanford, especially at home. USC has been great to start the year, whether it’s rushing the ball or through Cody Kessler and the passing Game. This will obviously be their toughest test to date, but the Trojans are stocked and should put in a better Game than last year. Stanford can’t say the same thing.
The Cardinal will probably struggle to Scorein this matchup, similar to their Game at Northwestern. Kevin Hogan is experienced at quarterback, but he still remains the same plodding passer than doesn’t have much upside. They haven’t really replaced playmaker Ty Montgomery in the offense and their ground attack just hasn’t been there, garnering only 3.2 yards per carry.
Ten points seems like a large spread between these teams, but if Stanford can’t stop Kessler or the ground duo of Ronald Jones and Tre Madden, this Game could get out of hand because the Cardinal don’t exactly have the type of offense to keep up.
Kessler started the season in Heisman talks and he’s furthered them with a solid start to the year completing 78.9% of his passes for seven touchdowns and no interceptions. He didn’t do much in last year’s meeting, but USC didn’t really pass the ball all that much as they ran it 15 more times. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise for Steve Sarkisian to let Kessler throw a little more in this Game because he deserves it. Kessler has honed in on JuJu Smith-SChuster (14 receptions, 3 TDs) in the early going, so Stanford will need to focus on him.
The Trojans were expected to have a better defense this season and this will be their first real test. If they can’t hold Hogan and company in check, they might have to stop playoff talks because their Schedule isn’t getting any easier. USC has five Top 25 teams remaining on its Schedule and has to travel to Arizona State next weekend.
Our Pick – Classic line iNFLation as a result of USC blowing out lesser foes while Stanford struggled on the road at Northwestern. Last 5 in series have been tight and we see that continuing. Stanford +10