By Jose Saldana
USC quarterback Sam Darnold and running back Stephen Carr combined to dominate the Cardinal 42-24 in the LA Coliseum on Saturday night.
No. 14 Stanford football (1-1, 0-1 Pac-12) had some early momentum after a 75-yard touchdown run by junior running back Bryce Love before No. 6 Trojans (2-0, 1-0) offensive and defensive line took over the game, but the poor performance of the Cardinal defense was the story of the game.
The defense yielded 623 yards of total offense and six touchdowns.
Sam Darnold came out in the first half as perfect as one can be. He began the game 10-10 and ended the half 14-17 for 225 yards and three passing touchdowns. The Cardinal’s inability to pressure Darnold or contain him in the pocket let Darnold sit back and hit on some high percentage passes.
The one time the defense was able to lay a finger on Darnold in the first half, he threw an interception to junior strong safety Justin Reid.
Darnold would throw a second interception to senior cornerback Alijah Holder in the third quarter but the Cardinal could not capitalize and punted the ball.
Darnold made some dazzling throws on the run to his receivers, including a diving touchdown grab by Trojans wide receiver Deontay Burnett in the second quarter.
Darnold ended the game 21-26 for 316 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.
The poor play of the defensive line also came about in the rushing defense as the Trojans were able to rush for 309 yards.
The Stanford defense was able to limit running back Ronald Jones II to a 2.9 yards-per-carry average in the first half, but another Trojans running back Stephen Carr really took the game over.
His touchdown to put USC up 42-24 with four minutes left on the clock capped off an amazing performance.
The Cardinal running game was okay for parts of the game with Love running for 141 yards on 11 carries in the first half. However, it seemed more boom or bust as 116 of his yards came on three carries.
Senior quarterback Keller Chryst was not effective for a majority of the game. He was 15 of 28 for 172 yards — a lot of his yards coming in the fourth quarter — and two touchdowns. The struggling offensive line and his lack of mobility in the pocket forced many incompletions.
USC led at halftime 28-17.
The beginning of the second half wasn’t any better for the Cardinal as the offensive line really began to struggle to protect Chryst and to open holes for the running backs. The offense would continually find itself in third-and-long situations.
Love only had 19 rushing yards in the second half — and 160 for the game — which showed the struggle Stanford had on the early downs.
The Stanford offense found some momentum after USC scored with 10 minutes left in the game. Chryst engineered a three minute drive which ended in a touchdown reception by junior wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. The score cut the lead to 11 points with six minutes remaining.
The Cardinal defense gave up a touchdown right back to put the game out of reach for Stanford.
Stanford had won the last three matchups and seven of the last nine games against USC before this loss.
The Cardinal will now have to put this loss behind them as they head to San Diego State ( 1-0) on Sept. 16.
Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana ‘at’ stanford.edu.
An earlier version of the article stated that USC beat Stanford 42-14 when, in fact, USC defeated Stanford 42-24. The Daily regrets this error.