LOS ANGELES, CA-There was no Andrew Luck on the football field to worry about. Christian McCaffrey has officially taken his talents to the National Football League. What’s left of the Stanford Cardinal under the David Shaw era is going to be interesting to watch as this college football season unfolds. Even more fascinating is how well the USC Trojans do on the prime-time stage.
There’s a lot of chatter these days around the Men of Troy and the possibility of a national championship run. One of their star players is being mentioned in the conversation as other Heisman Trophy hopefuls. USC coach Clay Helton knows his team have little or no control over how these dynamics play themselves out.
What Helton can control is getting his Trojans prepared for each opponent, one game at a time. For the second week in a row, the Trojans faced a little adversity, but managed to shrug it off like water rolling off a duck’s back.
The Trojans came out and played the Cardinal on Saturday in front of their bellowed home crowd at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as if they were fed up. You might say they were. The way the Trojans came smoking out of the box offensively, gave a strong indication to the Cardinal that this day would not be the day that they got bullied.
In the three previous games against Stanford, the Trojans found themselves on the back end of a WWE smackdown as the Cardinal rolled to three straight wins, including a thumping last season. In fact, before the Trojans had even took the field, they had been in the tail-between-the-leg department against Stanford, winning just two of the last nine Pac-12 Conference meetings from the Cardinal.
It would be Stanford’s turn to eat some humble pie this time around. The Trojans didn’t waste time sticking it to their California rival, going for 28 points in the first half on their way to posting a 42-24 win. Outside of the first quarter, the outcome was little in doubt. This was not the typical rugged Stanford team that USC had gotten accustomed to playing the last few seasons.
The dominance of the Cardinal in the past gave way to the speed and passing precision brought by quarterback Sam Darnold and his teammates. Whenever Darnold starts fast, good things happen for the Trojans. Darnold started his four touchdown performance with as short touchdown toss to Steven Mitchell in the first quarter to give USC a quick 7-0 lead.
Darnold would complete his touchdown throwing ways with a 11-yard scoring pass to Mitchell early in the fourth quarter. In between Mitchell’s two touchdown grabs, Darnold connected with Deontay Burnett twice in the second period to help give the Trojans a 28-17 halftime lead. Darnold completed 21 of 26 passes during the game for 316 yards, to along with his 4 TD’s.
If there was or is a pause in Darnold’s play, it would be the turnover game. After throwing two interceptions last week, Darnold came up a couple more against Stanford. With four picks on the season after playing two games,, Darnold now has one less interception that he had all of last year (five). Darnold bounced back from his season-opening debut against Western Michigan. He’ll bounced back and get ready for Texas.