Backup QBs to play big role when No. 23 Stanford visits USC
No. 23 Stanford (1-0) at Southern California (1-0), Saturday at 10:30 p.m. EDT (ESPN).
Line: USC by 1.
Series record: USC leads 62-33-3.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
With difficult schedules ahead over the next few weeks, neither the Cardinal nor the Trojans can afford to open conference play with a loss in their annual way-too-early Pac-12 opener.
USC quarterback Kedon Slovis vs. Stanford’s defensive front. Slovis, a freshman from Scottsdale, Arizona, will make his first career start after sophomore J.T. Daniels sustained a season-ending knee injury against Fresno State. Slovis has plenty of talent, including the strong arm he showed off on a 41-yard completion to Tyler Vaughns to set up a touchdown in the 31-23 win over the Bulldogs, but his lack of experience will be challenged by the perennially stout Cardinal. Stanford had four takeaways and three sacks in a 17-7 win against Northwestern.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Stanford: LT Walter Rouse and QB Davis Mills. Stanford will have first-time starters at two key positions. Rouse replaces preseason All-American lineman Walker Little, who sustained a leg injury against the Wildcats. How the 6-foot-6, 291-pound Rouse holds up against the Trojans’ pass-rush tandem of Christian Rector and Drake Jackson will be critical, especially with starting quarterback K.J. Costello because of a concussion. Mills completed 7 of 14 passes for 81 yards and also lost two fumbles in relief last week.
USC: RB Stephen Carr could be among the biggest beneficiaries of the Trojans’ switch to the Air Raid offense. Carr rushed for 56 yards and a touchdown on six carries and had six receptions for 43 yards and another touchdown against Fresno State, proving to be an explosive change-of-pace option behind bruising Vavae Malepeai.
FACTS & FIGURES
Stanford is 4-2 in its past six games at USC, but lost 42-24 at the Coliseum in 2017 in the first of two meetings with the eventual Pac-12 champions. ... Slovis was 6 of 8 for 57 yards and one touchdown in relief of Daniels. ... Stanford is 13-4 against teams using a quarterback with six or fewer career starts. That total includes a 17-3 win over USC last season in Daniels’ second career start. ... USC WR Velus Jones Jr. had a 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the season opener, joining Anthony Davis, Adoree Jackson and Marqise Lee among Trojans with a 100-yard return. ... Cardinal CB Paulson Adebo had two pass breakups and an interception against Northwestern after finishing with an FBS-best 24 passes defended (20 breakups, four interceptions) last season.
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