Making his Pac-12 debut is USC coach Lincoln Riley, as the No. 10 Trojans travel to face Stanford on Saturday. The matchup pits one of the conference’s newest coaches against one of its longest-tenured coaches, the Cardinal’s David Shaw.
The Trojans crushed Rice 66-14 in Riley’s first game with eight different receivers posting at least 20 yards. Biletnikoff winner Jordan Addison led the way with a pair of touchdowns in his Trojans debut, both of which came from Oklahoma transfer quarterback Caleb Williams.
Stanford cruised to a 41-10 victory over Colgate thanks to 118 yards rushing and two scores from running back E.J. Smith. Quarterback Tanner McKee added 308 yards passing and two scores in the blowout win. However, Stanford hopes to bounce back from a disappointing 3-9 season in 2021 that featured only two conference victories.
The Cardinal beat USC 42-28 in their last meeting behind a pair of touchdowns passes from McKee. Stanford has won four of the last five meetings between these two programs at home.
USC vs. Stanford: Need to know
Wave of transfers: The Trojans went 4-8 last season, but the roster couldn’t possibly look more different after Riley’s first offseason. USC brought in the No. 1 transfer class, featuring an All-American receiver, a star freshman quarterback and nearly a dozen defenders. The top passer, three of the top four rushers, three of the top four receivers and the top two tacklers against Rice were not on the roster last season. Heading into USC’s first game against a Power Five opponent, how those new faces react will say plenty.
Star pedigree: Junior running back E.J. Smith was tremendous for Stanford in his first game, clearing 118 yards and two touchdowns, including an 87-yard scamper. If his name sounds familiar, it should. Smith is the son of Emmitt Smith, the all-time NFL rushing yards leader. The younger Smith was used sparingly as a redshirt freshman, but he appears ready to take on a starring role. Stanford is just 12-19 over the past four seasons since Bryce Love left for the NFL. Smith emerging as a go-to player would be a major development for the program.
Quarterback battle: USC starter Caleb Williams ranked as the No. 2 quarterback and a top-10 player in the 2021 recruiting class. He earned many freshman honors with the Sooners after passing for 1,912 yards, rushing for 442 yards and posting 27 total touchdowns in limited snaps. However, don’t look past Tanner McKee. The junior was a borderline five-star as a recruit before leaving for a two-year mission and turned heads after showing real flashes last season. In three games against top-15 opponents in 2021, McKee completed 67% of passes for 636 yards passing and six touchdowns.
How to watch USC vs. Stanford live
Date: Saturday, Sept. 10 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Stanford Stadium — Stanford, California
TV: ABC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
USC vs. Stanford prediction, picks
Featured Game | Stanford Cardinal vs. USC Trojans
Expectations are off the charts for Riley’s program, and for good reason. The Trojans are the last unblemished Pac-12 team remaining from the preseason AP Top 25 and have one of the few coaches in the sport to reach the playoff multiple times. Stanford should be improved after a miserable 2021, but it’s hard to imagine USC missing an opportunity to make its first statement on a national stage. Prediction: USC (-9)
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