3:30 PM ET, September 6, 2014
Stanford Stadium, Stanford, CA
USC Rallies To Hand Stanford Rare Home Loss
David Shaw and Steve Sarkisian made clear that any animosity between them is history now that the latter has moved on to coach at Southern California.
Both teams opened the season with blowout victories and figure to be tested Saturday when the No. 13 Cardinal look to extend the nation's longest home win streak to 18 games as it faces No. 14 USC.
Sarkisian coached the last five seasons with Washington, losing four of five matchups to Stanford. He wasn't happy after last season's 31-28 defeat, claiming that the Cardinal were faking injuries in the final minutes as his Huskies attempted to rally with their up-tempo offense.
Both coaches insist that incident is behind them.
"I think, first of all, I have a great deal of respect for David as a coach and as a person," Sarkisian said. "We had a disagreement in the heat of the moment and I think both of us have moved on. We've seen each other on different occasions since then. We were actually in Hawaii together at an event. We haven't spoken on it and I think our relationship is fine. We've moved on."
Shaw echoed those thoughts.
"It was over," the fourth-year Cardinal coach said. "It was in the past. He and I sat together at lunch and breakfast a couple times and talked about a bunch of other things. Our wives are getting to become good friends; they know each other well so there's no animosity whatsoever."
These coaches will match wits in this rivalry for the first time. USC ended a four-game slide to Stanford last season, as the unranked Trojans knocked off the No. 5 Cardinal 20-17.
The key matchup figures to be between Williams and Peat, who are considered among the best in the nation at their respective positions.
"I think they're both two of the better players in our conference," Sarkisian said. "In our conference, you have those kind of weekly matchups that way that people are intrigued by and I'm sure people will be intrigued by that one."
Shaw didn't say whether he would use Peat by himself to slow down Williams, who had an interception and seven tackles as part of a dominant effort in last Saturday's 52-13 win over Fresno State.
"He's a difference-maker," Shaw said. "There's a lot of guys that you notice and there's some guys that you game plan around. He's one of those that you game plan just because he can be so dominant, he can be disruptive."
Peat is the lone returning starter for a Stanford offensive line that has built a reputation for excellence through the years. The new-look unit helped pave the way for 149 rushing yards on 32 carries in last Saturday's 45-0 win over UC-Davis.
That performance graded out as a "solid B," according to Shaw. A better effort is what he is looking for this weekend.
"They play with a chip on their shoulder," said quarterback Kevin Hogan about his offensive line. "They know that we lost all those great guys on the offensive line the past couple years. They want to prove that they're that next elite group, which I think they are. It helps motivate them."
Hogan threw for three first-half touchdowns -- one to Ty Montgomery, who caught five passes for 77 yards and scored on a punt return for the first time.
The Trojans opened the Sarkisian era that same day with their own rout behind Cody Kessler, who threw for a career-best 394 yards with four touchdown passes and ran for another score to earn conference offensive player of the week honors.
"Cody I thought played really tough, played gritty, played smart, possessed a tremendous amount of leadership," Sarkisian said.
Kessler missed part of Tuesday's practice to undergo a procedure on one of his toes.
"I'm 100 percent. I'm fine," Kessler said. "It was just something bothering me."
Kessler completed 25 of 37 passes last weekend, the same as he did when these teams last met as he threw for 288 yards and guided the Trojans to a winning field goal with 19 seconds left. Hogan was intercepted twice in the fourth quarter as the Cardinal finished with its lowest point total of the season.
These teams have been tied in the fourth quarter in each of the last four meetings.
Stanford's home-field advantage could be nullified a bit since school has yet to start, meaning that many students won't be back yet on campus to attend.
Top 25 Overview
The first Pac-12 game of the season is also the first conference game between top-15 teams in college football this season. Stanford has a national-best 17-game home winning streak, but lost to the Trojans last season -- ending a string of four straight wins in the series. After Week 1, USC ranks No. 4 in the country in total offense (701 yards) and Stanford ranks No. 5 in total defense (115).
|Avg Points Allowed||5.0||6.5|
If Week 2 is anything like college football's opening week, expect some offensive fireworks. There were 4 teams that gained at least 700 total yards of offense last week, something never accomplished in any single week last season. Meanwhile, Arizona (787) and Western Kentucky (708) set school records with their outputs.[+]
Teams To Gain 700+ Yds of Offense - Week 1
It's well-documented that USC-Stanford have had some dramatic finishes over their last 4 games. Not only that, they were dead even entering the 4th quarter in 3 of those 4 games, while being tied at two different junctures in the other. All 4 games were decided by an average of 5 points, and no single game was decided by more than 8.[+]
4th Quarter Equality - USC-Stanford - Last 4 Meetings
Stanford has won 17 straight home games, the longest active streak in FBS.[+]
Longest Active Home Win Streaks
Javorius Allen rushed for a career-high 154 yards Saturday, the most Stanford has allowed to a player in a game since the 2012 season. Allen gained 113 yards inside the tackles, more than any player against the Cardinal since the start of last season.
Stanford drove inside the USC 35-yard line on all 9 of their drives, but came up with only 10 points. Once Stanford got inside the 35, their offense struggled, averaging just 3 yards per play with only 4 first downs compared to about 9 yards per play with 17 first downs outside the USC 35-yard line.[+]
Stanford Offense vs USC by Distance To Goal
USC had 17 yards after the catch on seven receptions in the first half. In Week 1, the Trojans had 216 yards after the catch (most in last 2 seasons) and averaged 7.7 YAC per reception.
Stanford had nine drives inside the Trojans' 35-yard line Saturday and scored 10 points. The Cardinal have three touchdowns in 16 drives that reached the opponents' 35-yard line this season.[+]
Stanford's Inefficiency Inside USC's 35-yard Line
Stanford has three touchdowns in nine red-zone possessions this season (1 for 3 in first half vs USC). The FBS average for TD pct in red zone is 63%
First two drives of the game for Stanford produced 0 points. 1st drive ended on 4th and 20 from USC 32 (missed FG); 2nd drive ended with 4th and 22 from USC 29 (punt).
Nelson Agholor continued to be Cody Kessler's go-to target, catching a career-high nine passes Saturday. Agholor was targeted 13 times, which tied his career high (vs Stanford, 2013).[+]
Kessler passed on 10 of the Trojans' 14 third-downs, and Agholor was the target on six of those plays. Agholor converted on four of those occasions.
Cody Kessler Passing by Target - Saturday vs Stanford
ESPN Stats & Information