USC vs. Stanford: Prediction, pick, odds, line, TV channel, live stream, watch online

USC and Stanford are opening Pac-12 play against each other in September for the fifth consecutive season. Because of each program's place among its peers in the Pac-12, this early-season showdown between old rivals sets the stage for the Pac-12 title race. 

No. 10 Stanford has been the class of the Pac-12 North, appearing in four of the last six conference title games and claiming three titles. No. 17 USC has been to the conference championship game twice in the last three years, losing in 2015 to Stanford then taking down the Cardinal with a goal line stand to win its first Pac-12 championship since 2008 last year. 

While USC was down, Stanford took big steps forward. Now, both programs are at the top of their league and competing for championships and College Football Playoff spots. USC-Stanford may not come to mind as one of the best rivalries in the sport, but in 2018 it's certainly one of the most significant games that will be played all year.  

Viewing information

Date: Saturday, Sept. 8 | Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: Stanford Stadium -- Stanford, California 
TV: FOX | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)

Storylines

Stanford: Star running back Bryce Love was bottled by San Diego State last week, limited to 29 yards on 18 carries. Much of that is a credit to Aztecs coach Rocky Long and his team's preparation, but it also served as a preview of what Stanford's offense might face all season. Because of Love's explosiveness, teams may stack and the box and crowd the line of scrimmage, often at the expense of covering the Cardinal's wide receivers. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (6 catches, 226 receiving yards, 3 touchdowns) has quickly proven to be one of the top playmakers in the league already, so as long as he and K.J. Costello are in sync, then Stanford's offense has the perfect counter to teams selling out against the run. It's hard to imagine Love not having a bounce back performance, but last week proved they don't need Love to be the star in order to win. 

USC: The J.T. Daniels era got off to a rocky start, but once Daniels settled down and started connecting with high school teammate Amon-Ra St. Brown, the Trojans offense started to flash their potential for 2018 and beyond. The fact that Daniels' first road start is against one of the top teams in the conference isn't ideal, but Clay Helton was more than aware of the schedule when named the true freshman the starter and more than confident he has the tools to succeed in this spot.  

Game prediction, picks

One thing that USC has in its favor on defense is a secondary that can body up against Arcega-Whiteside and the rest of Stanford's receivers. The Trojans are going to need to get a lot from their running game to make life on Daniels easy, and I think Stanford's defense is going to take away some of the easy throws he got against UNLV. In what I think -- and oddsmakers see -- as a toss-up game between these two Pac-12 powers, I'll ride with the home team.  Pick: Stanford -4.5

So which teams should you back in Week 2 of the college football season? Visit SportsLine now to see the projected final score for every FBS matchup, all from the model that nailed its final seven picks of the 2017-18 season and has returned over $4,000 in profit to $100 bettors over the last three seasons.

CBS Sports Writer

Chip Patterson has spent his young career covering college sports from the Old North State. He's been writing and talking about football and basketball for CBS Sports since 2010. You may have heard him... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories