Wondering aloud: Do we have a fake field goal in the playbook? Haven't ever seen us run one. No matter, Ukropina is true and Stanford holds serve.
USC 14, Stanford 10, 12:32 remaining, second quarter
Taking sum, the offense looks as good as we could have hoped. The defense, especially in getting dented time and again at the line, looks as bad as we could have feared. All told, four-point USC lead sounds about right.
Adoree Jackson houses a kickoff, and I'm not used to seeing us so outclassed on special teams. Normally our backups have the athleticism edge. However, comes back on a huge holding call, and add in a personal foul and USC will go from its nine. Big change. USC nearly busts another touchdown after Kodi Whitfield just hangs onto an ankle on a third-and-two run reaches the second level. But the officials call three penalties on the play, with both teams guilty, and we redo the third and two. USC convert, and both teams are at eight first downs apiece already, not quite 19 minutes in.
Short gain, then Barkley throws away under pressure, and then on third and six, it's the makeup call, with a late flag on Ronnie Harris on pass interference. On replay, it's the correct call though. Then Juju Smith catches a short underneath route, turns on the jets, and 54 yards to paydirt later, Blake Martinez can't hang. This'll be the most points and yards Stanford's D has allowed in a half in a good while. Maybe dating back to an Oregon game under Harbaugh?
USC 21, Stanford 10, 9:29 remaining, first half
Stanford starts at the 16, as we are just getting crushed on special teams for the first time in years. McCaffrey takes the wrong cut and a modest gain is instead no gain. We're getting outgained on the ground 106 to 39. Hogan scrambles for 22 to move the chains, his longest scramble of the year. He's 8-of-11 for 122 yards early.
Where was this offense against Northwestern? Wow, Remound Wright takes a dumpoff and runs for ten. Then Christian McCaffrey fakes an option pitch to convert on second and 11. USC's line isn't getting home against our OL. Remound Wright for another six and this looks like the offense we were promised in the offseason.
A no-no-no-yes play as Austin Hooper outjumps two DBs and hangs on in double coverage at the one-yard line. Ugh, we scored on first down but this is some Notre Dame nonsense all over again as they spot him short. Texas 24, California 20 as that game nears the half. We could consider going for two here to pull within a field goal, but instead Ukropina is true.
USC 21, Stanford 17, xx remaining, first half
Total yards are 245-244 USC. We've done it on 30 plays, SC on 26, thanks to a 7.1 Trojan average on the ground. This time though, Adoree Jackson gets greedy and is dropped at the 10 by Peter Kalambayi on the kickoff return. The one time we've stopped SC, we got them off the field in three plays. The other times, they marched down the field for six. Looks like more of the latter as SC goes no huddle and finds an open slot receiver for 25 to start this drive. Plus, Peter Kalambayi is on the sideline with a shoulder stinger. Blake Martinez forces a third and two, but we can't drop Tre Madden early enough, and it's a fresh set of downs for USC with two minutes left in the half. Lots of hands on hips for the Stanford front seven. Ronnie Harris good coverage on a deep shot that leaves Juju Smith coming up limping, plus a holding penalty, and we might get this D off the field yet – second and 18. SC with a give-up run, and we do well to use our first timeout here, looking to take a halftime lead. Finally, the rush gets home for a Stanford sack, Brendan Scarlett with the honors, and we'll have 1:26 from our 22. Nice use of timeouts, and if we go score-score with receiving the ball after the half, we could be leading by double digits by the time SC gets the ball back.
Remound Wright for three yards off tackle, which why run that in a hurry-up offense. Hogan spins out of a sack, and then Hooper for 30. Wright again for three off-tackle – why? Hogan scrambles for first down nicely, but just 16 seconds left because of those runs and ball at the SC 37. We only play for a field goal, why? Spike with eight seconds left – why not use our last timeout – and we'll take an end zone shot before a field goal.
BEAUTIFUL CALL that has me involuntarily scream "YES!" Roll out to the right and Hogan hits Cajuste for seven as the SC defender falls down. So the mind trust didn't leave a lot of wiggle room with the two runs, but it works out perfectly as Stanford converted on the one end zone shot they take.
Stanford 24, USC 21, Halftime
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