With 15 minutes remaining in Palo Alto, the No. 2 USC Trojans and the No. 21 Stanford Cardinal are tied 14-14 in a defensively charged battle at Stanford Stadium. Stepfan Taylor took a screen pass and ran for a 23-yard touchdown with 18 seconds left in the period to tie the game.
The third quarter was marked by a pair of questionable coaching decisions involving the kicking game.
After kicker Jordan Williamson missed field goal attempts of 47 yards and 23 yards in the first half, Stanford head coach David Shaw opted to have him try a 51-yarder with 11:42 remaining in the quarter. The kick was blocked.
Then with a 4th-and-2 situation with 8:38 left in the quarter on the 13-yard line, rather than let kicker Alex Wood attempt a relatively easy field goal for his first college attempt, USC coach Lane Kiffin called for a fake. But Matt Barkley's pass to the end zone was in the hands of fullback Soma Vainuku but knocked away at the last moment.
George Uko, who started at defensive end for the Trojans, committed a bad penalty, getting called for a personal foul with 5:33 left in the quarter as the Trojans were about to receive the ball after a third down stop. But the penalty ended up not hurting USC, as three plays later Stanford was forced to punt.
This Saturday matchup is one of just two games featuring two ranked teams. In their history, the Trojans are 5-9 against Cardinal teams ranked in the top 25, including losses in each of the last three years. USC's last win over a ranked Stanford team came in 1986.
For more news and notes on USC football, be sure to read Conquest Chronicles.