We keep going to the tight ends and it keeps paying off, this time 15 yards to Austin Hooper to the USC 1. Then Remound Wright stuffed up the middle. I say keep the USC D on the field and, more importantly, the clock running. Sure enough, it's second down on which Wright finds paydirt, and guess he's our goalline back after diving in for his third score of the day.
Stanford 38, USC 28, 11:21 remaining
Nearly a seven-minute drive to go 48 yards, beautiful. USC just doesn't have an answer for our tight ends, as Austin Hooper and Dalton Schultz now have seven catches for 119 yards.
I'd say SC very nearly has to go score-stop-score here to make up the 10 points in 11:21 of clock time. Meaning if we can break that sequence at any point – scoring ourselves on offense, or stopping the USC defense – USC is in some desperate straits. They can probably afford to punt once, or give up one more score, but not a lot of wiggle room for the Trojans here.
Time of possession is 32 minutes to 16. SC with third and seven after Adoree Jackson returns to nearly midfield. But it's Juju Smith for 19 to push quickly into Stanford territory – exactly the drive this USC offense needs. Ronnie Harris with again great pass defense, shoving SC's receiver out of bounds before he could plant a foot down. Third and nine at the Card 23, and the Stanford D has its biggest stop of the night, forcing USC into a 37-yard field goal attempt. Elsewhere, Ole Miss 17, Alabama 10. Here, it's a one-score game with 9:19 to go as USC is true on the field goal try.
Stanford 38, USC 31, 9:19 remaining
Okay, a score of any kind just about wins the game for the offense. Who gets to be the hero?
Again outclassed on special teams, as we start from just our 19 after USC returned to near midfield. But McCaffrey runs left for seven or so, and right now, just keep that up, and it's a winning formula. McCaffrey for five running right, new set of downs.
False start on Josh Garnett, so might have to start passing now on first and 15. I'd keep looking to the tight ends, incorporate some play-action here. Instead, Hogan's in the shotgun and it's McCaffrey running tackle right for 13, and USC is used to watching this show at the Coliseum, but it's usually the home team running student body left and student body right. Remound Wright for three, move the chains yet again.
This would be an epic drive if we can keep it up. We won't, but I would go for it on a fourth and one if we get there, just keep the ball out of USC's hands. So two first downs, but now a passing down as Remound Wright is buried to force a third and eight. We're at nearly 37 minutes of possession, and under five minutes on the clock.
Wow, we're going to win! Screen to Christian McCaffrey as we send a man in motion left and Hogan looks left, but it's back to McCaffrey on the right on another BEAUTIFUL call. Tick, tick, tick, clock now under three minutes and we're at the USC 35 facing a third and seven. One more first down here is a clincher.
Instead Hogan scrambles for five to the USC 29, and Conrad Ukropina has a chance to be the hero as USC uses its first timeout. 2:33 to go, total yards now 475-364 with Stanford leading time of possession 39:19 to 18:08.
46-yarder for Conrad Ukropina to all but clinch the game – and Ukropina curls it in by a foot or two! Absolute nails, in a series that has come down to some big kicks over the years.
Stanford 41, USC 31, 2:27 remaining
Don't play overly defensive, I'd still kick it deep and make USC earn it. Sure enough, Jake Bailey does just that.
Right now, path to a Pac-12 Championship runs through Palo Alto. Heck, hope Oregon without their star quarterback loses two, and we can make that game in Palo Alto largely moot. Guess with Northwestern still winning and the result today, you put Stanford back in the Top 25 too.
Clock ticking down to 1:06 and USC's just to midfield. This tempo suits us just fine. Alameen Murphy gets beat and is quite smart to bring his man to the ground and take the pass interference call instead of anything worse. USC's down to Stanford's 16, though the official missed a USC knee hitting the ground ten yard earlier. Oh – and Josh Rosen is 2-of-6 with an interception. Good day for Stanford football.
USC Hail Mary tipped and falls short, and once again, Stanford and David Shaw are nails in a huge game.
Stanford 41, USC 31, Final