On the Docket: USC – Stanford

Where: USC

When: 3:30 ET

Why it matters: Because it could mean the end of an era at USC. Two weeks ago, Oregon knocked the Trojans from their perch as the leaders of the Pac-10, but they are still ranked in the top ten and are well respected. A loss to Stanford would send the Trojans to an area in the rankings they have not seen in nearly eight years.

The winner of this game has an outside shot at the Rose Bowl also. USC’s chances are virtually none, because Oregon would have to lose twice more since the Ducks have the head-to-head victory over the Trojans. If Stanford wins, though, they would own the tiebreaker should the Ducks lose another game.

Player to watch: Andrew Luck made a name for himself in high school as one of the best quarterback prospects in the country. As a redshirt freshman, he has probably supplanted USC’s Matt Barkley as the best freshman quarterback in the country.

For all the hype surrounding Barkley, it is Luck with the striking numbers: 2,076 yards passing, 11 touchdowns and only three interceptions.

Barkley in the meantime (with much more talent around him, let it be noted) has thrown for 1,839 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions.Last week he only completed 7-of-22 passes in a 14-9 win over Arizona State.

While Barkley was struggling to move the ball against one of the Pac-10’s weakest defenses, Luck was slicing up the Oregon defense for 51 points in an upset win. It was the same Oregon defense that held USC to 20 points the week before.

Barkley might get more attention, but Luck has been the better of the two so far in 200, and Saturday is his opportunity to prove it.

Who has the edge? Stanford. The last time the Cardinal visited Los Angeles Coliseum, they shocked the college football world, upsetting the Trojans as 41-point underdogs.

This time around, the Cardinal know they can win, and are catching the Trojans at the right time. USC has looked awful, especially offensively the last two weeks, while the Cardinal are riding high after the Oregon win.

The only thing against Stanford is they have played much better at home than on the road this season. Still, if they can light up USC’s defense like they have much of the rest of the conference, it might be hard for USC to keep up.

Do not be mistaken, this will be a close game, but the Trojans have all the pressure on their backs. Stanford can come in knowing they have nothing to lose, but a win would mark the program’s return to the national scene, just as it would start pushing USC towards the door. Funny how that works…


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