Last year these two teams produced a triple overtime thriller, a 56-48 Stanford win that was the highest scoring game in Trojans' history. Saturday isn't shaping up to be quite as active on the scoreboard, though there were a number of big plays in the opening 15 minutes.
Matt Barkley passed for 104 yards in the opening quarter, but completed just six of 12 passes.
Stanford started the game off on a high note as Ty Montgomery returned the opening kickoff 64 yards to the USC 33-yard line. But before their first play from scrimmage the Cardinal were hit with a delay of game penalty that set them back five yards. Stanford was unable to convert a first down on its first drive, which resulted in no points when Jordan Williamson's 47-yard field goal attempt hit the left upright.
USC open its first drive with a 16-yard catch and run from Barkley to Marqise Lee, but the Trojans were unable to do much else and were forced to punt.
After forcing a three-and-out on Stanford's second drive, the Trojans got the ball with great field position and midfield, and they took advantage. Nelson Agholor took a pass down the middle from Barkley for 48 yards down to the two, just the second catch of the season for the freshman.
Two plays later Silas Redd ran it in for one yard for a touchdown and a 7-0 Trojans lead. Redd's second touchdown of the season capped a four-play, 66-second drive. Redd appeared to be helped, pulled into the end zone by left tackle Aundrey Walker. But the points stood, as no penalty was called.
Stanford responded with a quick drive of its own, a six-play, 82-yard jaunt that culminated in a 59-yard touchdown run by tailback Stepfan Taylor.
USC failed in all three attempts to convert third downs, but Barkley did complete an eight-yard pass to tight end Randall Telfer on 4th-and-3 in the final minute of the quarter.
For more news and notes on USC football, be sure to read Conquest Chronicles.