USC face their first test since being thumped by Alabama when they visit seventh-ranked Stanford. The Trojans bounced back last week in a 45-7 home win over Utah State, but Stanford are going to be favored by at least six points according to OddsShark.com.
The Trojans opened at +6.5, but the number they will be most concerned with is five. That’s the number on the jersey of Christian McCaffrey, who totaled over 300 yards rushing in two meetings with USC last season.
If USC can stuff the run, they’ll force the hand of inexperienced senior Ryan Burns. The Stanford senior signal-caller had thrown one career pass before the start of this season, when he was backing up Kevin Hogan. Burns had a decent game in Stanford’s win over Kansas State, but will face a tougher test against a speedy USC secondary.
Stanford is the favorite, but this will be the start of a tough stretch for David Shaw’s team. The Cardinal host USC on Saturday, then travelling to UCLA before taking on Washington just five days later. If Stanford can emerge from that stretch undefeated, they’ll be not only the PAC-12 leaders, but one of the favorites to reach the College Football Playoff.
USC gave up big plays left and right to the Crimson Tide, letting Damien Harris total 138 yards rushing on just nine carries. McCaffrey is better, and USC have a poor track record of keeping him in check. The point total is set at 53, and that could be close, but Stanford should easily cover.
Heavy’s Pick: Stanford 38 USC 23. Stanford -6.5. Over on the point total.