This one hurts for USC fans. It hurts for many reasons, but one of the ways it hurts the most is the way Stanford won the game. The Cardinal beat USC in this game by imposing their will and the Trojans weren’t able to do anything about it.
That kind of “big man on big man” football is supposed to be USC football. What do you think the reaction was of John McKay and Marv Goux watching from above as the Cardinal physically dominated the Trojans in the second half on both sides of the ball?
Stanford ended up with 202 rushing yards compared to 26 for the Trojans. One team was able to run the ball, one team wasn’t. The Cardinal sacked Matt Barkley four times, and the Trojans didn’t get a sack on Stanford quarterback Josh Nunes. One team applied relentless pressure, one team didn’t.
The Trojans actually led in this game at halftime 14-7, thanks in large part to a pair of explosive runs after catches by Nelson Agholor and Robert Woods that led to short Silas Redd touchdown runs. But in the second half, Stanford simply took over and stayed true to their physical identity. Stanford outgained USC 238-91 in the second half. The Trojans did not convert a third down in the second half – they were 1 for 13 on the day – and Stanford had a two-to-one edge in time of possession. In the fourth quarter with the game on the line, Stanford held the ball for 10 minutes, 27 seconds.
It wasn’t anything special or fancy that Stanford did. On offense they lined up and ran the ball with Stepfan Taylor. On defense, they loaded up on the line and attacked. They didn’t change what they do and USC didn’t make the adjustments once it was clear that Stanford’s plan was working. In the end, it cost USC the game.