by Jerry Feitelberg
The number 11 nationally ranked Stanford Cardinal opens the 2014 Pac-12 campaign on Saturday against the number 14 ranked University of Southern California Trojans. The game will be televised nationally on ABC at 12:30 pm from Stanford Stadium.
The game should be a barnburner as both teams started the season last week by routing their opponents. USC beat Fresno State 52-13 and the Cardinal demolished UC Davis 45-0.
The Trojans had a tumultuous 2013 season. They fired head coach Lane Kiffin on September 29th and replaced him with Ed Orgeron. Kiffin had a record of 3-2 at the time of his firing. Orgeron’s Trojans went 7-2 the rest of the way and their biggest win of the year came when Trojans upset the Cardinal in Los Angeles.The Trojans named Steve Sarkisian as their new head coach before the Las Vegas Bowl was to played and coach Orgeron resigned. SC nonetheless, went to the Las Vegas bowl and defeated the Fresno State Bulldogs. Interesting to note that SC’s last two games were against Fresno State and they beat them each time. The Cardinal won the Pac-12 championship and went to the Rose Bowl for the second consecutive year but lost to Michigan State.
The Trojans offensively are led by quarterback Cody Kessler. The Trojan uptempo offense ran 105 plays in the Fresno State game , racking up 37 first downs and 701 total yards. Coach Sarkisian said that it was the best game of Kessler’s career. The Trojans are loaded at wide receiver with Nelson Aghholor, who had 5 catches for 57 yards last week and JuJu Smith. Smith had 4 receptions good for 123 yards including receptions of 43 and 54 yards. Javorius Allen is the main running back and Bryce Dixon is the fullback.
Stanford, on the other hand, is a team that does not use an uptempo offense. Stanford prefers to grind it out as they very disciplined and well coached. SC will have their work cut out for them if they are to beat the Cardinal. Stanford is led by senior quarterback Kevin Hogan. Hogan has an experienced corps of wide receivers including Ty Montgomery and Devon Cajuste. Christian McCaffrey played an important role in the win over UC Davis and should see action on Saturday. The Cardinal will attack the weakness of the Trojan defense.
The Cardinal’s strength the last two or three season has been part of Stanford’s success. The defense is led by defensive end Henry Armstrong and linebacker A.J.Tarpley. The defense’s job will be to slow down the Trojan Express.
Should be a great game. Stanford, however, is listed as the favorite.