The USC Trojans take on the Pac-12's top team, the Stanford Cardinal, this weekend. Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck has led his team to a 7-0 record and a No. 4 ranking the AP Poll this week, presenting the Trojans with arguably their toughest opponent of the season (though the Oregon Ducks may have something to say about that in a few weeks).
The key to containing Stanford will be slowing down the offense in the first half. The Cardinal have outscored opponents 75-28 in the first half of their last three games and have gone on to blow open even bigger leads in the second half of games.Good teams do not give up leads, and Stanford has proven just that this year.
USC has the ability to break Stanford's streak with its strong passing attack. Quarterback Matt Barkley and star wide receiver Robert Woods have proven to be a deadly combo, but the talented tandem may not be enough to pioneer a second-half comeback against a stingy Stanford defense if the situation arises. The Cardinal defense ranks fourth in the nation in points allowed, surrendering just 12.6 points per contest.
USC will have to do something that no team has managed to do against Stanford this season: go into halftime with an advantage on the scoreboard. Though it hasn't been accomplished yet, the Trojans may be in the best position to do so of any team on Stanford's schedule so far. With their fans present at Memorial Coliseum, the Trojans can give themselves the opportunity to spring the upset by feeding off of the crowd early and not giving the Cardinals a halftime advantage.