Expert Opinion: Standout Stanford Matchups

USC beat writers Dan Greenspan and Whitney Blaine opine on the second-best matchup between USC and Stanford, outside of their quarterbacks.

--- Best Individual Matchup in USC/Stanford Game---

. It's only Wednesday, three days before USC plays Stanford in the Los Angeles Coliseum, and us writers have already outdone ourselves with the quarterback comparisons. Ahead of Saturday, there are other matchups to watch out for outside of Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley. Whitney Blaine and Dan Greenspan give you their picks for (second) best individual duel.

Whitney Blaine, SCPlaybook.com Beat Writer and Reporter

-USC Defensive End Nick Perry Against Stanford Offensive Tackle Jonathan Martin

The scariest place to be Saturday isn't in the midst of the Stanford band running aimlessly around the Coliseum field blasting songs with rude undertones. But rather, it is deep in the trenches.

Two players in particular, Stanford's left tackle Jonathan Martin (6-6, 304) and USC's right defensive end Nick Perry (6-3, 250), will be quite the contest, in case you get tired of watching those somewhat decent quarterbacks.

Sure Martin has the bigger frame of the two by three inches and fifty pounds, but Perry is not one to back down. Incredible speed for his size, Perry is the leader of the Trojans' veteran line. While he has only four sacks this season (Minnesota, Syracuse, Arizona, California), head coach Lane Kiffin believes Perry's sacks will come in bunches as did the defense's ability to force turnovers deeper into the team's schedule.

And while Luck versus Barkley will be analyzed all day by scouts as far as their team draft boards are concerned, the same goes for Martin and Perry. Both are projected first-rounders, and neither wants the other to win that lineman battle. But there are a lot of snaps in the game, and Martin, like all offensive linemen, will have done the best job if it appears he does nothing at all. If Perry can get past him and sack the touted Luck, it will be on the senior's shoulders. On the other hand, if Perry is limited from disrupting the Cardinal's running game or its quarterback, then Martin will have won that battle.

As it is, the advantage goes to Martin. The Studio City (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake product has more career starts (31) than Perry (16) who hails from Detroit (Mich.) King High, despite being born just five months apart. And Martin is not accustomed to losing games as his team is riding a 15-game winning streak.

Dan Greenspan, SCPlaybook.com Beat Writer and Reporter

-Wide Receiver Robert Woods Against Any Member of Stanford's Secondary

The Pac-12 has seven of the top 25 passing offenses in college football. Stanford has played two of them, Arizona and Washington State, but neither the Wildcats nor Cougars have a receiver on par with USC sophomore Robert Woods.

Don't get me wrong, Juron Criner and Marquess Wilson are very good, but neither can match the combination of hands, speed, agility and route running Woods possesses. He shredded the Cardinal last season in his breakout game with 12 receptions for 224 yards and three touchdowns against a superior secondary.

Stanford lost cornerback Richard Sherman to graduation and safety Delano Howell is out with a hand injury. Starting corner Johnson Bademosi was abused by Woods last year and is the only defensive back capable of matching up physically with him at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds.

If the Cardinal decides to throw multiple defenders at Woods, who is second nationally in receptions and receiving yards, freshman Marqise Lee and a solid pair of tight ends are more than capable of exploiting that coverage.

For all the attention lavished on Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck and his USC counterpart Matt Barkley this week, Woods may well end up swaying the outcome of Saturday's signature matchup.


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