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USC vs. Stanford live blog: Trojans win dramatic Pac-12 Championship

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The Trojans win Round 2 against Stanford.

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Championship-Southern California vs Stanford John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Fourth quarter

USC 31, Stanford 28, final score. Faced with a fourth-and-2 in Stanford territory, the Trojans elected to go for it. Sam Darnold rolled to his right and found his fullback (an extra bitter way for the fullback-friendly Cardinal to lose) for the decisive first down. USC is your Pac-12 champ and will land a New Year’s Six game, likely the Fiesta.

USC 31, Stanford 28, 2:09.

We’re inching closer to truly having Pac-12 after dark here, friends. Cardinal’s back in the game with a K.J. Costello throw that he couldn’t have walked to the reciever any better.

USC 31, Stanford 21, 3:05.

Just that same old Stanford offense we all know and love ... wait, what?

USC 31, Stanford 21, 4:22.

Oh dear, Stanford. This TD might be all she wrote.

USC 24, Stanford 21, 8:00.

If the Cardinal lose this game, look back to this drive as the reason why.

The Cardinal got stoned on fourth down with good penetration from the backside by the Trojans, and squandering these opportunities are why the Cardinal might not get it done tonight.

Third quarter

USC 24, Stanford 21, 1:45.

Fumble. Stanford ball, and the Cardinal are certainly not going away quietly.

USC 24, Stanford 21, 2:31.

Get a load of this catch. And the Cardinal are back in the game. K.J. Costello and tight end Kaden Smith hook up.

USC 24, Stanford 14, 4:37.

Well hello, Bryce Love.

USC 24, Stanford 14, 4:49.

The third quarter’s been pretty slow so far but USC avoided disaster with a near-turnover to score and go back up 10.

Halftime

Pac 12 Championship - Stanford v USC Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Pac 12 Championship - Stanford v USC Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
NCAA Football: Pac-12 Championship-Southern California vs Stanford John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
NCAA Football: Pac-12 Championship-Southern California vs Stanford John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Second quarter

USC 17, Stanford 14, :34.

This big catch set up the Cardinal in business and Stanford’s now within one score heading into the break

USC 17, Stanford 7, 3:02.

USC goes up two scores on an explosive drive. A seven-play, 97-yard romp almost ended in the Trojans’ own end zone, but Sam Darnold had something to say about that.

He’d connect with Tyler Vaughns a few plays later to go up 10 points.

USC 10, Stanford 7, 9:46.

USC 7, Stanford 7, 14:55.

What’s not to love about Bryce Love? A 9-yard score ties the game for the Cardinal.

First quarter

USC 7, Stanford 0, 4:38.

After having a TD taken off the board by a penalty, USC bounced back to make it count on the next play.

Pregame: Well hello there, fancy Stanford helmets.


The stakes: It's 2015 all over again, as the USC Trojans and the Stanford Cardinal will collide in the 2017 Pac-12 Championship matchup. The Cardinal embarrassed their Southern California foes 41-22 in the game two years ago but will have a tougher time doing the same this year.

USC (10-2 overall, 8-1 Pac-12) cruised past Stanford (9-3, 7-2), 42-24, in September, running for an astounding 307 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Sam Darnold threw only five incompletions. However, Stanford rebounded quickly from that game — winning eight of its next 10.


Time, TV channel, and streaming info

  • Time: 8 p.m. ET
  • Location: Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif.
  • TV: ESPN
  • Streaming: WatchESPN
  • Odds: USC is favored by 4 points

USC vs. Stanford news:

Back in 2015 USC and Stanford met in the Pac-12 Championship game at Levi’s Stadium where the Trojans looked to pull an upset and avenge their earlier loss to Stanford while the Cardinal was playing for a possible Playoff berth. A few players such as Ronald Jones II, Chris Hawkins, and Steven Mitchell Jr. were a part of that Trojans team that lost to Stanford that night.

Clay Helton also had the interim tag taken off a few days before the game. The USC defense got torched by Heisman candidate running back Christian McCaffrey, who had an amazing performance which almost won him the Heisman. That night Stanford defeated USC 41-22 on its way to the Rose Bowl while the Trojans went to the Holiday bowl.

Stanford is a much better and different team than when it played the Trojans back on September 9. Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello has looked pretty good since he was named the starting quarterback, and it’s been a trickle-down effect for the whole offense. Running back Bryce Love has been battling an ankle injury; however he is in the running for the Heisman trophy with the outstanding numbers he has put up. Even the defense has played some improved football since then. USC on the other hand been winning, but won games in ugly fashion since its win over Stanford.

After two straight losses early in the season, I doubted Stanford could win the Pac-12 North, and I’m sure I was not alone; fans questioned Shaw’s conservative play calling and his choice behind center. Even David Shaw himself mentioned in his opening remarks Saturday night that he doubted whether his team would see USC again for a rematch. But here we are on Thanksgiving weekend, thinking about the Pac-12 Championship game next Friday vs. the Trojans and thinking about how much better of a team Stanford is now than in September.

Stanford battled on both sides of the ball on Saturday, and it wasn’t until late in the game that they slipped away from the Irish. Without key turnovers, this game would’ve been a nail-biter; if not for the Stanford front seven, Notre Dame would’ve ran away with the game early.

The Stanford Cardinal take on the USC Trojans Friday with the Pac-12 Conference Championship on the line. These two teams last met in early September with the Trojans winning convincingly. Before we overextrapolate from the results of one game that happened an eternity ago in college football time, it is important to take a look at what the Trojans have done on the football field since early September.

USC vs. Stanford prediction

This will be a great matchup because both teams have a rich history with one another. But USC will avenge its championship loss in 2015. Bud Elliott agreed in his six best conference championship bets column.