Defensively, Kessler is 10-of-12 for 164 yards, and the Trojans have run for 115 yards on 22 carries, so pick your poison. I think the ideal recipe would be getting the ball to start the second half, having a nice nine-minute drive, and by the time USC gets the ball back, there are barely 20 minutes left in the game, and you're down double digits. Best D today might be a good offense – just have to keep scoring and keep the pressure on USC.
Still think we're underdogs here (i.e. our real-time chances of winning are less than 50%), scoreboard and all, but liking our chances a lot better than a few hours ago.
Oh, and a turnover would be huge. Neither team has blinked yet, so a cough-up could change the game.
601 total yards at the half, we have 322 of those. Not much doing our first drive of the second half though, as it's quickly third and 11, the Coliseum is loud, and Kevin goes down for the second straight play, both times coverage sacks. Think SC made the adjustment and is bringing more guys. Kevin Hogan is on the sideline getting his leg looked at as Alex Robinson shanks a punt. Not a good start to the half.
Hogan's limping around on the sideline, but he insists he's okay per Todd McShay. SC, meanwhile, going on fourth and three, and SC converts but it's ruled a Stanford interception as Alameen Murphy pries out and Dallas Lloyd dives and pounces. I suspect this one will be shortlived and quickly overturned, but if not, maybe Pat Haden can come sprinting down to the sideline again. Stanford D out on the field, they know it's a good conversion and yet another failed opportunity to get off the field. We haven't blitzed in these third and short situations and it's cost us. Blake Martinez can't wrap up on Cody Kessler, who scrambles to the Stanford one, we're not lined up on the next play, and it's an easy USC touchdown.
USC 28, Stanford 24, 10:08 remaining, third quarter
Key time for the offense, needs a response here to hang in this. Two runs left brings up third and three. Then a dumpoff to Cajuste is a first down after a favorable spot. Think we probably had it anyway, but the spot left no doubt. A rare defensive holding moves the chains again. Then we blow our first timeout of the second half because we can't get people in on time. (This after the USC touchdown came when we couldn't get our defense set in time.) This is the stuff that loses games.
McCaffrey drops an eight-yard gain on first down and we're lucky the deflection isn't picked off. But the line does a nice job and McCaffrey comes back for eight yards on second down. Wish we would run here on third and two, anticipating this is four-down territory near midfield. Remound Wright had to hurdle a USC defender in the backfield, and then had a ton of room once he landed, rumbling to the USC 24. McCaffrey for two, and then he draws pass interference on a second-down lob as he's matched up against a much bigger, slower linebacker. Fresh set of down at the USC six, need to cap this drive. McCaffrey spins nicely to advance to the one and then it's Remound Wright up the middle for a one-yard dive for the second time today. Huge drive at a key time.
Stanford 31, USC 28, 4:55 remaining, third quarter
Can't decide whether the 12th Buick ad or the 12th fantasy football ad of the evening is more annoying right now. Hogan now 14-of-19 for 225 yards and two touchdowns. But Kessler's 14-of-16 for 180 and three touchdowns, so anything we can do, they can do just as well. Still waiting for that turnover. Kessler again escapes the pass rush, but Kevin Anderson has the open-field tackle on the dumpoff for minimal gain. SC shoots themselves in the foot again, with a 15-yard personal foul turning third and two into third and 17. Their second personal foul of the day. Hey, we can't get in plays on time and they can't refrain from jumping on the pile three seconds after the whistle, guess every program's got something.
Time for us to go up two scores after forcing a rare 'SC punt, but instead USC drops McCaffrey for a loss, and then we have to burn our second second-half timeout in a close game because yet again we can't get in a play. Inexcusable.
Bubble screen to McCaffrey goes for nine to set up third and five. Again we should run as we're at the USC 40 and in presumptive four-down territory. Instead, Hogan gets great protection and finds Trent Irwin down the middle to the USC 32. Tick, tick, tick…
One minute left in the third quarter as McCaffrey runs for two. Cal 45, Texas 31 over in Austin. And you thought this game was a shootout…
Here, McCaffrey for another two to bring up third and six, and that'll be the end of the third quarter.
Stanford 31, USC 28, End of third quarter
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