USC vs. Stanford score: No. 10 Cardinal handle No. 17 Trojans in thorough victory
Stanford was in control all night against its in-state rival and Pac-12 foe
It wasn't what anybody would call a pretty win, but they all look beautiful in the win column. No. 10 Stanford picked up a 17-3 victory over No. 17 USC in Palo Alto, California, on Saturday night, getting some revenge for last season's loss to the Trojans in the Pac-12 Championship Game (as well as a loss during the 2017 regular season). It was a game that made you feel like you were watching a boa constrictor get around its prey and then slowly suffocate it to death.
You know, with a couple of big Bryce Love runs sprinkled in between, and a lot of hits on USC quarterback J.T. Daniels.
Here are some key takeaways from the game.
1. Stanford's run game was not efficient, but it was explosive: The good news for Love is that the finished product looks good. He finished the game with 136 yards rushing and a touchdown. It was a nice recovery from what was an ugly performance against San Diego State in the opener (29 yards on 18 carries), but the final line is a touch misleading.
Love broke free for a 28-yard gain during Stanford's first possession, which ended with Love scoring a touchdown from 6 yards out. In the second half, Love burst open for another long run, picking up 59 yards to get Stanford out of the shadow of its own end zone. Both were excellent runs, but the two of them accounted for 87 of his yards. That means on Love's other 20 carries he managed only 49 yards, which is similar to his performance last week.
It's not what I'd call a problem, but you'd like to see more consistency in the run game from Stanford. You want the big runs, obviously, but there were just too many carries that went nowhere or lost yardage in between. It's something Stanford will need to work on as the season progresses.
2. Stanford's defense looks solid. The Cardinal held USC to 332 yards, but while good, that numbers are a bit misleading. To be honest, after watching the entire game, seeing that 332 number was a surprise because it sure didn't feel like USC picked up that many yards on offense.
I just remember USC being unable to block all night and Daniels taking hit after hit, along with the Trojans running backs being unable to find any room to work. The Stanford defense also forced three turnovers and only allowed USC to put together two drives of 50 yards or more. One ended in USC's lone field goal, the other a game-clinching interception.
3. USC is going to struggle if its offensive line doesn't improve. Life is going to be difficult enough on offense when you have a very young QB like the Trojans have in Daniels, but it's going to be a lot worse when your offensive line can't block for him. Daniels was sacked four times, and he was pressured throughout the night when he dropped back to pass. The fact he was even able to put up the numbers he did (16/34, 215 yards) is a testament to the talent he does have because he did not have any time to work with.
If the Trojans don't get stronger on the offensive line, the Pac-12 South could be up for grabs.
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