USC to open Pac-12 play against familiar foe Stanford

USC looks to move to 3-0 on the season.

Williams in a yellow practice jersey is follow by numerous teammates in red jerseys.

In a rivalry that dates back to 1905, USC will take on its oldest rival Stanford this Saturday night for the final time as Pac-12 opponents. Saturday will mark the two teams’ 103rd matchup, and the Trojans will look to defeat Stanford for one final time before both teams leave the Pac-12 in 2024.

The Trojans look to move to 3-0 on the season, coming off two victories in which they scored 50+ points. The Cardinal is coming off a victory of their own, defeating Hawaii.

Junior quarterback Caleb Williams seeks to continue to take advantage of defensive holes and drive yet another phenomenal game. While Stanford’s total defense, which is ranked at No. 74, is much better than those of San José State and Nevada, the Trojans plan to replicate their electric offensive performances and win big.

On the offensive side of the ball last week, USC put on a show. Fourteen different Trojans caught a pass, showing the team’s true depth at the receiver position, as well as Williams’ ability to find and target open receivers. If the Trojans can come close to replicating their passing game performance from last week, they should be in for a big win. Redshirt senior wide receiver Tahj Washington is hoping to add to his team-leading total of three touchdowns.

USC’s run defense vastly improved last week, despite the ejection of true freshman linebacker Tackett Curtis in the second quarter, plus the absences of junior linebacker Eric Gentry and senior linebacker Mason Cobb. Shorthanded, the Trojans were still able to effectively halt Nevada’s run game, holding the Wolf Pack to just 49 yards on 38 carries. USC must continue to prevent the run against Stanford, who scored two touchdowns on the ground in their win against Hawaii.

Stanford football entered a new era with its 37-24 win against Hawaii last week, as new head coach Troy Taylor made his debut with the Cardinal. Sophomore quarterback Ashton Daniels flourished under the new system, putting up 248 yards and two touchdowns on 25-for-36 passing. This will be a test for the Trojans, who despite defensive improvements last week against Nevada, still gave up some plays they would certainly like to have back, including a 77-yard Nevada touchdown pass.

While USC is ranked at No. 6, the Trojans cannot go easy against unranked Stanford. One player who will be a big factor for the Cardinal is senior tight end Benjamin Yurosek, who scored a touchdown in Stanford’s victory and also led the team in receptions (nine) and receiving yards (138). Stanford’s run game, which posted 158 rushing yards last week, will also pose a challenge for the Trojans’ defense.

While Stanford played well last week, the Trojans still seem poised to win by a considerable margin. If the defense can stay on the same trajectory and continue to improve, USC shouldn’t have a hard time handling the Cardinal.

While the season is very early, this game has meaning; a rivalry shared between two schools for over a century is coming to an end after this season. Despite the Pac-12 Conference’s dramatic collapse in the past few months, one thing that will remain intact is the timeless history between USC and Stanford on the gridiron. USC has an all-time record of 64-24-3 against its oldest rival, and regardless of the result on Saturday, this matchup will go down in history as the last time Stanford and USC match up as Pac-12 rivals.

While a lot has changed between 1905 and the present day, including both teams’ nicknames, the competitiveness of the rivalry has always remained consistent. To witness history, catch USC taking on Stanford Saturday at 7:30 p.m. this Saturday at the Coliseum.