Posts Tagged ‘USC Trojans’

Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 1-1 Stanford

September 10, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 10, 2019

I returned to Tobacco Road on Saturday evening to view the Stanford football team’s debacle at USC. Suffice to say that the results were quite different from the previous week’s.

• The Bad

As you might imagine after a 25-point loss, there are plenty of candidates for this week’s The Bad. For instance, the Stanford secondary, which allowed a freshman quarterback making his first collegiate start to roll up 377 yards and three touchdowns on 28 of 33 passing. For another instance, the Stanford defensive front, which allowed a freshman quarterback making his first collegiate start to roll up 377 yards and three touchdowns on 28 of 33 passing. And for a third instance, the Stanford defensive coaches, who allowed a freshman quarterback making his first collegiate start to roll up 377 yards and three touchdowns on 28 of 33 passing. (Are you sensing a theme here?)

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Trojans come back from a two-touchdown deficit to stomp Stanford, 45-20

September 9, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 9, 2019

USC scored five unanswered touchdowns in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to humiliate Stanford in the Pac-12 conference debut for both teams Saturday night.

The Cardinal (1-1, 0-1) took a 17-3 lead on the first play of the second quarter before suffering an epic collapse. Stanford’s backup signal caller, junior Davis Mills, turned in an adequate performance with 237 yards, a score and a pick while competing 22 of 36 throws. His favorite targets were a pair of juniors, tight end Colby Parkinson (seven catches, 89 yards) and wideout Conor Wedington (five catches for 67 yards). Redshirt senior Cameron Scarlett gained 82 yards on 17 rushes.

But USC’s freshman quarterback was the undisputed star of the game. Kedon Slovis was magnificent in his first collegiate start, racking up 377 yards, three touchdowns and no picks on 28 of 33 passing. Vavae Malepeai led the way for the Trojans on the ground with 42 yards and two scores, while Stephen Carr had 33 yards and a touchdown.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 2-0 Stanford

September 15, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 15, 2018

After playing some free poker in the afternoon, I drove to my favorite Stanford-sports viewing spot in Durham. It proved to be a very enjoyable evening, even though I didn’t work in a long postgame walk.

• The Bad

Stanford committed seven penalties for 50 yards against the Trojans, who were flagged just four times for 35 yards. This was a significant turnabout from the opener, which saw Stanford draw only three penalties for 20 yards, while the Aztecs committed a whopping 11 penalties for 125 yards. The decline in Cardinal precision and rules-following deserves the label of this week’s The Bad.

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Cardinal upends Trojans, 17-3, to open the conference season

September 14, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 14, 2018

The Stanford football team launched its Pac-12 conference season with a 17-3 victory over visiting USC Saturday evening.

The Cardinal offense scored on its first and last drives of the opening half and matched the Trojans’ only score, a third-quarter field goal. Meanwhile, the defense harassed USC quarterback J.T. Daniels and closed the door on the Trojans each time they entered the red zone.

Daniels, a freshman making his second collegiate start and first on the road, was attended to on the sidelines and briefly left the field during the first half. His replacement, redshirt sophomore Matt Fink, carried a single time for five yards and completed one of two passes for a mere three yards.

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Cardinal falls short, 31-28, in its rematch with USC in the conference championship game

December 5, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 5, 2017

A mistake-prone Cardinal lost 31-28 to USC in the Pac-12 football championship game Friday night.

The result gave the South Division its first league title in the seven years since the Pac-10 added Colorado and Utah. The Trojans, who finished the regular season 11-2, won their first conference crown since 2008; they will play Big 10 champion Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas. Stanford, which fell to 3-1 in conference title bouts and 9-4 on the season, will face Texas Christian University in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.

USC received the opening kickoff and reached the Stanford 43-yard line before a pair of incomplete Sam Darnold passes forced them to punt. The Cardinal, dressed in all-white uniforms with brand-new helmets featuring a chrome Stanford logo, gained five yards on a pair of Bryce Love runs and an incomplete K.J. Costello pass attempt before giving the ball back.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 1-1 Stanford

September 13, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 13, 2017

I saw most of the Cardinal football team’s demoralizing defeat at the hands of USC Saturday night. I rendezvoused with my fellow Stanford alum Jim at Tobacco Road, a downtown Durham sports bar that I particularly favor, right around kickoff.

But we decided to leave shortly after my arrival: The joint was packed, and none of the TVs seemed to be tuned to the game we wanted to see. We hiked over to Bull McCabe’s, where I’d watched Stanford’s 42-16 home loss to Washington State last October. We sat down in front of a television just in time to see Stanford wrap up its first possession, which yielded a meager 36 yards and concluded with a punt.

The game was exciting — but only for a time.

• The Bad 

Look, when your defense surrenders 623 yards to the opposing team and allows them to convert 10 of 12 third downs, there’s absolutely no question about it — they’re going to be labeled The Bad. Yes, I know USC was ranked No. 6 in the nation and is full of talented players, and I know Alijah Holder and Justin Reid each intercepted highly touted Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold.

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Trojans stomp Stanford football, 42-24

September 12, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 12, 2017

The sixth-ranked University of Southern California football team imposed its will against visiting Stanford on Saturday night, scoring touchdowns on its first four possessions en route to a 42-24 victory.

The Trojans moved to 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the Pac-12 by rushing 48 times for 307 yards. Sam Darnold showed why he might join several earlier Trojans quarterbacks as Heisman Trophy winners: The sophomore completed his first 10 pass attempts and finished the evening 21 for 26 with 316 yards and four touchdowns.

The maroon and gold squad was forced to punt just once by the Stanford defense, which recorded only one tackle-for-loss, a single pass breakup and no quarterback hurries. The Trojans, by contrast, were credited with 10 breakups, five tackles behind the line of scrimmage (including two sacks) and a hurry.

Stanford quarterback Keller Chryst, playing by far the most challenging opponent of his college career, completed 15 of 28 throws for 172 yards and two scores. But while the Cardinal offense finished with a respectable average of 6.5 yards per rush, the team only ran the ball 26 times, and the Trojans were able to stifle most carries between the tackles.

The most telling numbers of all were the third-down conversion rates. No. 14 Stanford, now 1-1 overall and 0-1 in league, was successful six times in 12 tries, while the hosts missed twice in a dozen opportunities.

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So USC came to town last Saturday night…

September 24, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 24, 2016

Given USC’s haughty college football legacy and Stanford’s modest one, Cardinal football fans have found themselves both surprised and gratified to be looking down on the Trojans in recent seasons. Last September, the Cardinal went to Los Angeles and upset the Trojans, 41-31. In December, the teams met again in the Pac-12 championship game, and after a tense third quarter, the Cardinal exploded to claim a 41-22 victory.

But as the disclaimers on the financial-management firm advertisements and prospectuses invariably state, past performance is no guarantee of future results. So when USC came to the Bay Area last Saturday for a game at Stanford Stadium, I was by no means confident in the outcome.

That held true early in the first quarter, when the Cardinal went three and out and Justin Davis opened USC’s initial possession by rushing for 30 yards on the first four plays. But immediately afterward, the Stanford defense asserted itself, holding Davis to a one-yard reception, stopping rusher Ronald Jones II behind the line of scrimmage and then tackling Jones short of the first-down marker on third and 20, which had been set up in part by a USC false start on second and 9.

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People always hate That Team — and in Pac-12 football, That Team is USC Trojans

September 23, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 23, 2016

Every sports league that’s attracted a passionate fan base and that’s had a stable set of teams for more than a few seasons has That Team.

That Team is the team that everybody either loves or hates. That Team is the team that’s been the most successful, and its fans remind you of that success every chance they get. When That Team’s having a good season, its fans take the wins for granted; when That Team’s hit a bit of a lull — don’t worry, it’s just a temporary one! — its fans complain as if every loss is a personal affront deliberately afflicted upon them by an incompetent player and/or coach and/or front office and/or owner. That Team’s players rarely give the other team any credit; when they do, their praise is patently insincere.

In the National Basketball Association, That Team is the Los Angeles Lakers. In the National Football League, That Team is the Dallas Cowboys. In men’s college basketball, That Team is Duke — although it used to be UCLA, and a lot of people, especially fans of fellow ACC teams, also consider Duke’s neighbor, the University of North Carolina, to be That Team.

And in college football, especially in the Pac-12 — formerly the Pac-10, formerly the Pac-8, formerly the Athletic Association of Western Universities, né the Pacific Coast Conference — the University of Southern California is That Team. The Trojans have won 10 national championships in the sport; that tally doesn’t count their 2004 championship, which was revoked post hoc due to NCAA rules violations. In the 100-year history of the conference, the Trojans own an astounding 37 football titles. The school’s 24-8 record in the Rose Bowl, the granddaddy of bowl games, is the high-water mark for wins by a single school in one bowl.

In short, everyone in the Pac-12 wants to beat the Trojans. And when they do, they find that the sensation is addictive. One win isn’t enough — you always want more.

Speaking of which more, I’ll have more on one team’s quest to turn the tables on the Trojans in a forthcoming post.

Trojans break Cardinal streak: Stanford goes down, 20-17, in a heart-breaking defeat in Los Angeles

November 22, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 20, 2013

I can’t think of le mot juste to describe Stanford’s 20-17 upset loss at USC Saturday night.

Shocking? Yes, it was that. After all, the Trojans are the team that had lost at home, 10-7, to lowly Washington State on Sept. 7. That was a game in which USC gained just 193 yards.

Devastating? Yes, it was that, too. With the Cardinal falling to 8-2 overall and 6-2 in the Pac-12 North, the team lost the primacy it had wrested from Oregon with the inspiring 26-20 victory on Nov. 7. Stanford still might advance to the conference championship game by beating california (lowercase c intentional), but that scenario now requires the Ducks to lose either to Arizona (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12 South) or Oregon State (6-4, 4-3 Pac-12 North). That is, at best, an uncertain prospect.

Expected? Oddly, this also fits. Stanford has played with fire time and again. The Cardinal dominated Oregon for roughly 50 minutes, but the final score showed just how effectively the Ducks managed to claw back into the game. In fact, with the exception of the 55-17 pasting of Washington State, virtually every win the Cardinal has had this year might have gone the other way had a handful of plays yielded different results.

Oregon State would have needed just a touchdown and a two-point conversion to tie Stanford as the clock wound down. Before Kodi’s catch was made with nearly two-thirds of the contest vs. UCLA having already been played, the score was tied, 3-3. With 1:16 left to play, a review showed (to some folks, anyway) that a fourth-down Washington pass had fallen incomplete, thereby wiping out a play that would have extended their drive for a game-tying field goal. Despite ultimately losing by 14 points, Arizona State put a huge scare into the Cardinal by ripping off three straight fourth-quarter touchdown drives. Army is 3-7 so far this year, but the Cardinal could muster only a paltry 20-13 halftime lead in the game at West Point — and that required a 47-yard Jordan Williamson field goal as time expired in the second period.

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