For the second consecutive game, the Stanford passing attack made an opponent pay for focusing on its ground game, and the Cardinal defense kept freshman quarterback JT Daniels out of sync all night as No. 10 Stanford beat No. 17 USC 17-3 in both teams’ Pac-12 opener at Stanford Stadium on Saturday night.
A week after throwing for 332 yards and four touchdowns against San Diego State, Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello threw for 183 yards and a score as the Cardinal (2-0) beat the Trojans (1-1) after losing to them twice last season, including in the conference title game.
Stanford took the opening kickoff and drove 83 yards on eight plays to take a 7-0 lead 4 minutes, 34 seconds into the game. The drive not only gave Stanford the lead, but also got Heisman-hopeful running back Bryce Love going after a quiet Week 1.
Love had five carries for 37 yards on the drive, which ended on his 6-yard scoring run. Against the Aztecs last week, Love had only 38 yards on 18 carries all game. But it was the Stanford passing attack that did most of the damage in the first half, accounting for 132 of the Cardinal’s 172 total yards in the first 20 minutes.
Love finally broke out 4 1/2 minutes into the second half, taking a toss to the left and running 59 yards to the USC 31. He finished the game with 136 yards and the touchdown on 22 carries.
USC’s scoring woes could be traced to Stanford’s defense, particularly the way it pressured and seemed to confuse Daniels. A week after one of the best debuts by a freshman quarterback in USC history, Daniels struggled all night Saturday.
He finished the game with 215 yards on 16-of-34 passing, was sacked four times and was intercepted twice — on his final two passes of the game. He also missed a drive in the first half after sustaining a bruised hand on a hit by blitzing Stanford linebacker Joey Alfieri.
—Field Level Media