USC vs. Stanford score, highlights: Sam Darnold, Trojans dominate Cardinal

There have been a lot of people waiting for the last couple of years to proclaim that USC is "back," and while I'm not quite ready to make that statement based on one game in September, USC certainly looked backish against Stanford on Saturday night.

The Trojans marched 80 yards on their first drive to take a 7-0 lead, and never really looked back. Stanford would respond quickly with a 75-yard touchdown run from Bryce Love, but USC just answered with another touchdown of its own.

After a shootout of a first half, the Trojans defense tightened things up in the second half, and the offense finished with 622 yards of total offense to pick up a win that seemed a lot easier than it should have been.

Here are three key things to take away from this big win for the Trojans.

1. Sam Darnold looked like a top NFL Draft pick. He looked a little shaky last week against Western Michigan, but if you needed any reminders as to why NFL scouts are high on Darnold's future, he gave you plenty of them on Saturday. Darnold completed 21 of his 26 pass attempts for 316 yards and four touchdowns.

Darnold made NFL throws all over the field, hitting receivers in stride, throwing the ball in the one place the defense couldn't get to it and sometimes doing so on the move.

Of course, it wasn't all great. He did throw two interceptions, though one was just a fantastic play by Stanford's Alijah Holder. The other interception was one you typically see from really talented quarterbacks with big arms. Darnold was feeling pressure and decided to toss one up off his back foot. It was a wounded duck, and it was picked rather easily.

It didn't affect him the rest of the night, though, as it was mostly dime after dime from then on out.

2. USC's next great receiver is Deontay Burnett. The junior wasn't a household name following last season despite catching seven touchdowns. With the loss of Juju Smith-Schuster and Dareus Rodgers, somebody needed to pick up the slack in this Trojans passing attack, and Burnett seems more than capable.

After catching seven passes for 142 yards against Western Michigan last week, Burnett finished with 121 yards on nine receptions on Saturday night. He also caught two touchdowns, including a sweet diving grab in the corner of the end zone to give the Trojans a 27-17 lead in the second quarter.

Burnett could follow in the long lineage of top pass catchers in Los Angeles.

3. Stanford needs to find an offensive weapon that isn't Bryce Love. Love is phenomenal. He's so good that Stanford fans will likely forget about Christian McCaffery sooner than later, as Love rushed for another 160 yards and a touchdown against USC.

The problem was, outside of Love, Stanford couldn't do much. Love had 160 yards, and Stanford's offense only had 331 as a team.

Keller Chryst didn't turn the ball over, but he completed only 15 of his 28 passes for 171 yards. An average of 6.1 yards per attempt just isn't going to get it done.

USC loaded the box in the second half after struggling to stop Love, and it was an effective maneuver, and Stanford never really had an answer for it in the passing game. That's something the Cardinal will need to address because this one loss doesn't take them out of the Pac-12 title race, or the playoff race.

But if they don't find more balance on offense it's going to be tough to accomplish either of those goals.

Catch up on all the action from this and other top tilts around the country below.

Thanks for joining us.

CBS Sports Writer

Tom Fornelli has been a college football writer at CBS Sports since 2010. During his time at CBS, Tom has proven time and again that he hates your favorite team and thinks your rival is a paragon of football... Full Bio

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