Old School Rivarly
An early loss in Pac-10 play hurt the Trojans' chances again this year, and they would vanish completely with another defeat to the Cardinal.
Playing inspired football since its only loss, sixth-ranked USC looks to win its seventh straight game and avenge a devastating loss from last season when it visits Stanford Stadium on Saturday.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have USC -22 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 67% of bets for this game have been placed on USC -22 (View College Football bet percentages).
Entering last year's meeting with the Cardinal (5-5, 4-3) at Los Angeles Coliseum, the Trojans (8-1, 6-1) were 41-point favorites as the No. 2 team in the AP poll and having won a conference-record 35 straight home games. USC was on the verge of its sixth consecutive victory over Stanford until Mark Bradford's 10-yard pass to Tavita Pritchard with 49 seconds remaining lifted the Cardinal to a 24-23 victory.
That defeat, along with a 24-17 loss at then-No. 5 Oregon three weeks later, kept USC out of the national championship game for the second straight year after making it the previous two seasons.
This season, the Trojans' national championship hopes took a hit on Sept. 25, as Oregon State knocked USC from the top of the AP poll with a 27-21 upset. Coach Pete Carroll's team, however, has since overpowered every opponent to at least maintain an outside shot in the BCS title chase at No. 6 in those standings.
The Trojans have outscored their last six opponents 231-23, and improved to 25-0 in November since Carroll became coach in 2001 with last Saturday's 17-3 win over then-No. 21 California.
"November's here, we're in the midst of it all," Carroll said. "We're fired up the way we're playing.
"We have a good opportunity to finish this thing and are looking forward to the next challenge. We have a chance to be a really good team with this defense. They definitely give us a good chance to win out."
USC's defense has gone more than 10 quarters since giving up a touchdown - Arizona got one in the second quarter of the Trojans' 17-10 win on Oct. 25.
USC ranks first in the Football Bowl Subdivision in points allowed (6.7 per game) and total defense (206.4 yards per game). On the season, it has yielded just seven touchdowns - four by Oregon State and three by its other eight opponents combined.
Last Saturday, the Trojans gave up 165 yards - the fourth straight game it has allowed less than 200.
"We have a swagger and a confidence. It's not cockiness, it's confidence," defensive end Clay Matthews said. "Our mind-set is to shut down the run and the pass and to shut out each team each game."
Although it struggled to get into the end zone against Cal, USC's offense is also tough to slow down. The Trojans gained 411 yards last Saturday, and are first in the league in total offense (454.7 ypg) and third in scoring (37.7 ppg).
Quarterback Mark Sanchez completed 18 of 29 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns against the Bears, and has passed for 10 TDs and one interception in his last four games.
USC's rushing attack - led by C.J. Gable, Stafon Johnson and Joe McKnight - is averaging 245.8 yards per game, and it should find running room against a Cardinal defense that allowed 307 rushing yards in last Saturday's 35-28 loss at Oregon.
Stanford lost that game on a 3-yard touchdown run with six seconds left, three weeks after losing to UCLA on a TD pass with 10 seconds remaining.
"We've been practicing on two-minute (defense), especially after the UCLA game. We were trying to run some base stuff, just trying to contain it, and they made a couple big plays on us," said holder Bo McNally, who ran for a touchdown on a fake field goal.
The Cardinal, one victory shy of becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2001, have won all four of their home games this season after losing 14 of 16. They have not finished a season undefeated at Stanford Stadium since coach Bill Walsh's 1977 team won all six home games.
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
STANFORD is 9-7 against the spread versus USC since 1992
USC is 10-6 straight up against STANFORD since 1992
9 of 14 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
STANFORD is 1-1 against the spread versus USC over the last 3 seasons
STANFORD is 1-1 straight up against USC over the last 3 seasons
2 of 2 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at STANFORD since 1992
STANFORD is 4-4 against the spread versus USC since 1992
USC is 5-3 straight up against STANFORD since 1992
3 of 6 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at STANFORD over the last 3 seasons.
USC is 1-0 against the spread versus STANFORD over the last 3 seasons
USC is 1-0 straight up against STANFORD over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
(!) [QB] Mark Sanchez is probable - Ankle - 11/07/08
[RB] Joe McKnight is upgraded to probable - Toe - 11/06/08
[FB] Stanley Havili is "?". - Illness - 11/04/08
[RB] Allen Bradford expected to miss remainder of the season - Hip - 10/17
[TE] Blake Ayles is downgraded to doubtful - Knee - 11/06/08
[C] Michael Reardon is out indefinitely - Hip - 09/07/08
[DT] Averell Spicer is downgraded to doubtful - Ankle - 11/06/08
[CB] Shareece Wright is expected to miss up to 6 weeks. - Neck - 09/23/08
[SS] Kevin Ellison is expected to miss 2-4 weeks. - Knee - 10/31/08
[LB] Michael Morgan injured last game %27?%27 - Foot - 11/02/08
[S] Austin Yancy missed last game %27?%27 - Hamstring - 11/01/08
[KR/RB] Jeremy Stewart left last game %27?%27 - Undisclosed - 11/03/08
[FB] Owen Marecic left last game, %27?%27 - Ankle - 11/02/08
[WR] Richard Sherman is expected to miss the rest of the season. - Knee -
[WR] Marcus Rance out indefinitely - Knee - 09/01/08
[OL] Gustav Rydstedt is expected to miss the rest of the season. - Concuss
[OL] Chris Marinelli is upgraded to probable - Shoulder - 11/06/08
[OL] Allen Smith out for season - Knee - 08/07/08
[DL] Levirt Griffin is out for the rest of the season. - Knee - 10/26/08
[LB] Nick Macaluso left last game %27?%27 - Undisclosed - 11/03/08
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Posted: 11/11/08 7:51 PM