Stanford Cardinal (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) vs. USC Trojans (1-0 SU, 0-1 ATS)
College Football Week 2
Date/Time: Saturday, September 9, 2017 at 8:30PM EST
Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: STAN +7/USC -7
Over/Under Total: 56
In big Pac-12 week two action, the Stanford Cardinal come to the Coliseum to face the USC Trojans. USC is on a big roll dating back to last season and entered 2017 as the prohibitive favorite to win the conference. Week one was a little tougher than expected in a home 49-31 win over Western Michigan. Stanford played to open the season last Thursday and smashed Rice, 62-7. Well-rested and after a dominating win, can they rock the boat at the Coliseum this week?
The Trojans got off to a slow start in week one and maybe overlooked Western Michigan. It was a hot day at the Coliseum and WMU was projected to be a shadow of the team that went 13-1 last season. USC quarterback Sam Darnold was off-target, throwing two picks and the Southern Cal defense was at times surprisingly porous, especially against the Western Michigan run-game. Those who place too much stock in that week one result, however, might be led off-course for the purposes of calling this game right.
The week 1 result might actually get the Trojans more on-point, realizing that they may need a boost mentally. The offense ended up getting on a roll and Darnold ending up hitting Deontay Burnett with 142 yards through the air. Leading the way on the ground was Ronald Jones, II., who ran for 159 yards and 3 scores. Also chipping in was freshman Stephen Carr, who scored twice on TD runs. The shifty Darnold also ran one in. It wasnt a vintage USC offensive performance, but they showed signs of whats to come.
In light of a tough conference opponent coming into town, more can also be expected out of the SC defense, following an uneven performance in week one at home. Its just that after struggling to contain the WMU run-attack, theyre going to need a really strong effort to withstand the Stanford power-running approach. At the same time, the defense was made to look worse than they were being that Western Michigan scored on a kickoff return and the turnovers didnt help, either. They still got some good play, including CB Marvell Tell, III. returning an interception for a TD. The front seven also made an impact more as the game wore on. And lets not forget, Western Michigan is a team that was 13-1 last season, losing only to Wisconsin. The Trojans didnt cover the spread, but as far as week one games go, it wasnt that big of a deal.
While USC is on a big roll, the Cardinal have quietly won 7 games in a row dating back to last season. They lost a lot of production with Christian McCaffrey going on to the NFL, but a lot of talent remains. Looking to get Stanford back to the top is head coach David Shaw, already in his 7th season at the helm. After tearing his ACL, quarterback Keller Chryst looked great against Rice, with no visual after-affects of his injury being evident.
Against Rice, Chryst threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns. Offering even more hope was the performance of Bryce Love, who romped for 180 yards and a TD. Cameron Scarlett ran for 3 touchdowns and caught a big pass. The backfield should be dynamic and if those two continue that type of production, it would be huge. Alas, it came against Rice so we should temper our optimism. Aerially, Chryst will be depending on a lot of youngsters, including Connor Weddington, Kaden Smith, Trent Irwin, Dalton Schults, and others. We will also see more about the line, which looked really good against Rice.
Stanfords defense goes from Rice to a USC offense that will put them to the test. Last season, they were pretty good, giving up under three touchdowns a game. The line is pretty tough with Harrison Phillips in the middle. The secondary is highly-competent, with guys like Malik Antoine and Justin Reid back there. The second level is a constant rotation of different bodies, with Peter Kalambayi the most-accomplished of the bunch. There are a lot of developing stars on this side of the ball, but again, Rice and USC are two different ball games.
This is a high-stakes game that is coming maybe a bit too soon for both teams. But there are solid cases that can be made on behalf of both teams. Stanford looked strong, but only so much can be gleaned from a win over Rice. And while USC struggled in week one, they are rightfully the favorite in this spot. I just feel that in a game that could come down to the end, having the points is going to feel good. Im taking the Cardinal.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Stanford Cardinal plus 7 points.
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