College Football Pac 12 Picks and Predictions: #4 Stanford Cardinal at USC Trojans

#4 Stanford Cardinal at Southern California Trojans
Los Angeles Coliseum – Los Angeles, California
Saturday, November 16, 2013, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV: ABC
Opening Line: Stanford -3

Current Line: Stanford -3 1/2 (-105)
Opening Total: 46
Current Total: 45
Opening Money Line: Stanford -170 / USC +145
Current Money Line: Stanford -180 / USC +150

Stanford is a 3.5 point favorite on the road at USC in a key Pac 12 battle.
Stanford is a 3.5 point favorite on the road at USC in a key Pac 12 battle.

The 8-1 Stanford Cardinal took control of the Pac 12 North division last week with their upset of Oregon 26-20. The Cardinal are 6-1 in the Pac 12 and the Ducks are 5-1. Stanford can’t rest on their larels though as they have a tough game at 7-3 USC Saturday. The Trojans are 4-2 in the Pac 12 South. USC is behind 5-1 Arizona State and 5-2 UCLA in the division. UCLA beat Washington on Friday, and Arizona State hosts Oregon State later Saturday evening.

USC leads the series 59-29-3 against Stanford including 26-18-1 in Los Angeles. Stanford has won four straight games in the series and 5 of the last 6, including a 21-14 win last year in Stanford. The series dates back to 1905.

Stanford is coached by David Shaw. The Cardinal suffered their only defeat of the season at Utah 27-21. Stanford has home wins over San Jose State 34-13, Arizona State 42-28, Washington 31-28, UCLA 24-10, and last week against Oregon 26-20 along with road wins at Army 34-20, Washington State 55-17 and Oregon State 20-12. Stanford has won 3 straight games since the Utah loss.  The Cardinal are 5-4 ATS and the total is 4-5 this season. Stanford was a 10 point underdog at home against then undefeated and #3 ranked Oregon last week and the total was 60.5.

Stanford took a 26-0 lead against Oregon early in the fourth including 4 field goals. The Ducks mounted a furious comeback and scored 3 touchdowns, including on a blocked field goal. The Ducks missed a two point conversion and were down 26-20 with 2:12 left. Stanford recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock. Oregon had been averaging over 600 yards per game and over 50 points a game. However, the Cardinal held the Ducks to 312 total yards including 250 passing and 62 rushing yards. The Ducks were averaging over 300 yards rushing. Stanford had 377 total yards including 274 rushing yards. Oregon has 2 turnovers in the game, both in the red zone. The Ducks also had 10 penalties for 81 yards. Stanford had the ball for almost 43 minutes.

Stanford is outscoring teams 32-19 this season. The Cardinal are #17 in points allowed nationally. The Cardinal are averaging 388.9 yards per game on offense including 183.2 passing and 205.7 rushing yards. The Cardinal are #105 in passing, #28 in rushing and #82 in total offense nationally. On defense, Stanford is allowing 349.4 total yards per game, including 250.1 passing yards and 99.3 rushing yards. The Cardinal are #9 in rush defense and #19 in total defense, but the pass defense is #100 nationally. Stanford is +2 in turnovers with 13 takeaways. Stanford is 70/136 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 59/158. Stanford averages 39 penalty yards per game and opponents average 52. The Cardinal have forced 30 sacks and allowed 9 this season. Stanford is 30/33 scoring in the red zone with 19 touchdowns and opponents are 20/28 with 14 touchdowns. The Cardinal have two pick sixes this season and 2 kickoff returns for touchdowns, and have allowed one fumble return for a touchdown.

Stanford QB Kevin Hogan has completed 60.5% of his passes for 1,596 yards with 13 touchdowns and 5 picks, along with 53 carries for 241 yards and 2 touchdowns. Running back Tyler Gaffney has 211 carries, 1,043 yards and 13 touchdowns, along with 10 catches, 81 yards and a touchdown. Anthony Wilkerson has 59 carries, 232 yards and a touchdown, along with 5 catches for 38 yards. Receiver Ty Montgomery has 41 catches, 639 yards and 5 touchdowns, plus two kickoff returns for touchdowns. Montgomery also has 92 rushing yards.  Devon Cajuste has 21 catches, 377 yards and 4 touchdowns. He is questionable Saturday with a knee injury after missing the last two games. Michael Rector has 5 catches for 205 yards and 2 touchdowns.

USC is coached by interim coach Ed Orgeron, who took over when Lane Kiffin was fired a few weeks ago. The Trojans have a home loss to Washington  State 10-7, and road losses at Arizona State 62-41 and at Notre Dame 14-10. USC has home wins over Boston College 35-7, Utah State 17-14, Arizona 38-31, and Utah 19-3 along with road wins at Hawaii 30-13, Oregon State 31-14, and last week at California 62-28. The Trojans are 5-5 ATS and the total is 3-7 this season. USC was an 18.5 point favorite against Cal and the total was 57.

USC scored 21 first quarter points against Cal, but the Golden Bears pulled to within 21-14 in the second quarter. The Trojans would score 20 more points before halftime to make it 41-14, but they missed an extra point. USC had 2 punt returns and a blocked punt, all for touchdowns in the first half. The Trojans scored 14 points to open the third quarter and expand the lead to 55-14. The Trojans would cruise to 62-28 blowout win on the road. USC had 499 total yards including 256 rushing yards. Cal had 483 total yards including 293 passing and 190 rushing yards. There were no turnovers by either team, but they did combine for 13 penalties for 131 yards.

The Trojans are outscoring teams 29-20 this season. USC is #18 in points allowed out of 125 teams. USC is averaging 402.6 total yards per game, including 216.7 passing and 185.9 rushing yards. USC is #72 in total offense and #78 in passing.  The Trojans are allowing 339 total yards per game including just 112.5 rushing yards per game and 226.5 passing yards. USC is #17 in rush defense and #16 in total defense nationally.  USC is +5 in turnovers with 16 takeaways.  The Trojans have forced 31 sacks and allowed 23. USC is 46/139 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 56/167. The Trojans are averaging 61 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 46.  USC is 25/28 scoring in the red zone with 17 touchdowns, and opponents are 17/29 with 13 touchdowns. The Trojans have 3 punt returns for touchdown and one pick six this season and have allowed three pick sixes.

Cody Kessler and Max Wittek were splitting the snaps at quarterback but Kessler won the job as he has taken almost all of the snaps the last six games.  Kessler has thrown for 1,977 yards with 12 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, along with a rushing touchdown. Wittek has thrown for 190 yards with a pick. Third string quarterback Max Browne is questionable with a virus but he hasn’t taken a snap yet this season.

Running back Tre Madden has 128 carries for 671 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with  14 catches for 201 yards and 4 touchdowns. He has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury, but he is listed as probable. Javorius Allen has 51 carries, 405 yards and 7 touchdowns, along with 8 catches, 107 yards and a touchdown. Justin Davis has 53 carries, 361 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with a catch. He is out for the season with an ankle injury. Silas Redd has 76 carries, 351 yards and a touchdown, along with 10 catches 45 yards and a touchdown. He is out Saturday with a knee injury. Running back D.J. Morgan is listed as questionable Saturday with a knee injury as is Taylor Ross.

Receiver Nelson Agholor has 36 catches, 647 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 2 punt returns for touchdowns. Marqise Lee has 38 catches for 521 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Darreus Rogers has 15 catches for 148 yards.  Xavier Grimble has 13 catches, 164 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Randall Telfer is probable with a knee injury. Seven defensive players and three offensive linemen are listed on the injury report for the Trojans.

Stanford is 6-1 ATS in November, 12-3-1 against teams with winning home records, 20-6-1 after a cover, 19-6-1 in road games, 20-7-1 after rushing for 200 yards or more, 19-7 after allowing less than 100 rushing yards, 8-3 after passing for less than 170 yards, 36-14-1 after a straight up win, 10-4 against teams with winning records, 35-16-1 on grass, 37-17-1 overall, and 34-16-1 in Pac 12 games. The road team is 6-2 ATS in this series recently. The Cardinal are 5-1 ATS in the last six against the Trojans, and 4-0 in LA.

USC is 4-0 ATS in Pac 12 games, 4-1 overall, 7-3 in November, 2-5 after a cover, 3-10 after a straight up win, 0-5 against teams with winning road records, and after  a straight up win of more than 20 points. The over is 4-1 overall in this series and in the last five at the Coliseum between the two teams. The underdog ahs covered 5 of the last 6 in the series.

USC has shown some semblance of an offense in the last two games, albeit against two terrible defensive teams in Oregon State and California. They will face a much stiffer test against Stanford who shut down the high powered Oregon attack last week. The Trojans are banged up at running back. I think Stanford wins a low scoring game on a late field goal.

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