On Friday, December 1, 2017, the 9-3 Stanford Cardinal will take on the 10-2 USC Trojans in the PAC12 Championship game at Levi’s Stadium. This is a game that looked like it would be the Trojans taking on the Washington State Cougars, but a loss to the Washington Huskies opened the door for Stanford who now battles for the PAC12 championship.
These two teams faced off against each other on September 9, where USC handily defeated Stanford 42-24. The Trojans rushed for 307 yards that day while also throwing for 316 and averaged 8.4 yards per play.
Neither of these teams has performed particularly well against the spread this season. Stanford is 5-6-1 this season, but they have gone 8-4 against the spread against USC in the last 12 games between these two teams. The Cardinal have gone under in six of their last eight games but have won eight of their last nine. In the last 10 games between these two teams, Stanford has won seven of them.
The Trojans are 4-8 against the spread this season. They have won 19 of their last 21 games and have gone over in four of their last six.
The Cardinal enter this game as winners of eight of their last nine games, with their only loss being a three-point defeat against Washington State on November 4. Stanford handled No. 9, Notre Dame, last weekend, 38-20, and now look to earn their way into the Rose Bowl with a victory over USC.
Stanford is led by an impressive running attack, which features Bryce Love who has rushed for 1848 yards and 16 touchdowns, putting him among the nation’s leaders. Love is averaging 168 yards per game and 8.6 yards per carry, meaning that he should have a dramatic impact on this game. We had a huge game against the Trojans in the first matchup, gaining 160 yards and averaging 9.4 yards per carry, but he will need to have the ball in his hands more than 17 times for Stanford to win.
The big factor for the Cardinal will be quarterback K.J. Costello. He has taken over the reins and has played exceptionally well, throwing for 1169 yards and nine touchdowns. He has only thrown two interceptions the season. Keller Chryst started against the Trojans in their previous matchup, but this has been a new offense under Costello.
Stanford has done an outstanding job at taking the ball away, recording 16 interceptions and 13 fumble recoveries. Justin Reid leads the team in tackles with 88, plus he has five interceptions and a sack. This young man is an amazing talent who should be a difference maker in this game.
Since losing to Notre Dame on October 21, USC has rolled to four straight victories, including a five-point victory over archrival UCLA to close out the season. This USC offense is a juggernaut, averaging nearly 35 points per game.
While not having the same numbers as Love, Ronald Jones II has put up huge numbers of his own, scoring 16 touchdowns as well while rushing for 1346 yards. He is averaging 122 yards per game and 6.3 yards per carry. In the previous matchup between these two teams Jones rushed for 116 yards on 23 carries, but it was Stephen Carr who had the big day, gaining 119 yards on just 11 carries.
The Trojans have an outstanding quarterback in Sam Darnold, who is expected to be a high pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Previously against Stanford, Darnold threw for 316 yards and four touchdowns in the victory. This season the Trojans quarterback has thrown for 3462 yards and 24 touchdowns. His only blemish is the fact that he has thrown 12 interceptions, but has still completed 63.2 percent of his passes.
USC really knows how to get after the quarterback, recording 41 sacks this season and 16 interceptions. They have two outstanding pass rushers in Rasheem Green and Christian Rector who have recorded 8.0 and 7.5 sacks respectively.
Cardinal vs. Trojans Betting Lines
The question to ask is how much stock to put in the previous matchup between these two teams. USC dominated that game, as Stanford had no answers for how to stop the Trojans offense. This is a new Cardinal team since then, which should make this will quite possibly the most entertaining game of the weekend. Both have explosive offenses, but each of these teams wants to run the ball, which should keep the total score under 58. Take USC to narrowly cover the spread.