By: Elliott Duncan
Although New York faced severe thunderstorms during Saturday’s game, all was clear and bright for Matt Barkley and his Trojans. Facing an hour delay at the half due to tumultuous weather, USC rebounded in the second half of the game to earn the victory, 42-29.
Barkley tossed six touchdown passes, tying his own record; five of them went to his favorite targets, Marquise Lee and Robert Woods. The Trojans had a shaky first half, leaving the first quarter tied with no points on the board at all. Like we said last week, once the Trojans get hot it’s hard to cool them down.
After starting the season with two victories and no losses, the Trojans head to Northern California to face off against Stanford, a team that took them to three overtimes and dealt them a devastating loss last season. This year, however, Stanford is without first overall NFL pick Andrew Luck, and is relying on Josh Nunes, who will be making only his third start ever at the college level.
Stanford opened the season up against San Jose State, and struggled mightily. Rebounding the next week, Stanford put up fifty points in the rout of Duke, giving the team a strong vote of confidence heading into next Saturday’s PAC-12 opener.
The USC defense will be looking to shake up the young quarterback, so expect Stanford to really push their run game. If Stanford can run the ball effectively it should open up the passing game, making things more balanced.
USC will look for the air, as always, but may also look towards the ground game with the emergence of Silas Redd. Redd, a transfer from PSU, posted over a hundred yards against Syracuse and looks like he has a firm grasp of the Trojans offense. The Trojans have lacked a superstar running back since Reggie Bush left, and Redd might just be able to fill that void.
Tracking Barkley’s Heisman candidacy thus far this season, it’s no surprise that he’s sitting at the top. Throwing for 559 yards with a 10/1 TD:INT ratio, he’s starting the season as well as expected. Hawaii and Syracuse don’t boast the best defenses, however, and it will be a good challenge for him to start the conference opener against one of the top defenses on the west coast.
Keep a close eye on the receivers and the yards they produce after the catch. Stanford shouldn’t give up the big play too often, and it will be up to the receivers to make something happen. If the USC defense can rattle Josh Nunes, look for big defensive plays early and often. Younger quarterbacks lack poise against stout defenses and this game shouldn’t be any different. Prediction: USC runs away with this one 31-10.