Culver City Observer -

USC, UCLA Await A Major Test -- Stanford


September 15, 2016

The USC and UCLA football teams are preparing for something very important.

USC will play Stanford Saturday. UCLA will play Stanford the following Saturday.

Last year Stanford beat USC, then beat USC again in the Pac-12 Conference championship game.

Stanford has been the Pac-12 champion in three of the last four years and has Heisman Trophy runnerup Christian McCaffrey returning.

Stanford has beaten UCLA for eight straight years, including a 56-35 rout last season.

So, although UCLA will be busy enough playing BYU this Saturday the coaches and players will then focus on a Stanford game that should have a major effect on the outcome of their season.

This Saturday I’m going to watch closely when both teams are on offense because Stanford operates from the standard T-formation but USC switched to the shotgun this season when Clay Helton became head coach.

The Trojans have had some great T-formation quarterbacks in the past.

Is this going to be better? We’ll see.

For a lot of years USC and Oregon were the dominant Pac 12 teams. But Stanford has emerged as the hot favorite now and David Shaw is a proven head coach while Helton began his head coaching work this season with a 56-6 loss to Alabama.

The Trojans did make a good recovery in their 45-7 win over Utah State but they’re playing an extremely difficult schedule and will need a major upset somewhere along the way.

Stanford had a bye last week but won its season opener, 26-13 over Kansas State.

From what I’ve seen so far Max Browne has emerged as the Trojans’ starting quarterback in his fourth year in the program. But Darnell, the better runner, comes in when the Trojans are close to the opponent’s end zone.

The Trojans have some good running backs but none with the reputation of McCaffrey, who is extremely special.

In recent years Stanford has had the better line play and it will be a big challenge to both USC and UCLA to control the line of scrimmage. If either LA team can do that it will help their chances considerably.

But we have to take a moment to accept the fact that Stanford will be the favorite over both USC and UCLA this time.


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