On Friday, Dec 1, 2017, the #12 Stanford Cardinal (9-3 Overall, 7-1 Pac-12) will play the #10 USC Trojans (10-2 Overall, 8-1 Pac-12). Our Stanford plays USC 2017 Pac-12 Championship pick offers the Trojans at -3.5 and the over/under at 58.0 points. The Cardinal team has won three straight including a 38-20 win over #8 Notre Dame on Nov 25. The Trojans have won four in a row, which includes a 28-23 win over UCLA on Nov 18. Here’s how we see this game developing.
The Cardinal club comes to this game after averaging 32.3 PPG and allowing opponents 20.7 PPG. Although their rushing offense is good, the team lacks a dynamic pass attack. On defense, they do a good job versus the pass, but have a tough time stopping the rush attack. They’ve been allowing on average 170 ground-yards per game.
Sophomore QB K.J. Costello (61.1 COMP%, 9 TDs, 2 INTs) will be looking to connect with a squad of reliable receivers, including J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (41 REC, 633 YDs, 15.4 AVG, 6 TDs). Junior RB Bryce Love (215 ATT, 1,848 YDs, 8.6 AVG, 16 TDs) is a major component of the Cardinal offense. He’ll have to deal with a USC rush D that is effective.
DE Harrison Phillips (76 TCKLs, 7 SCKS, 14 TFL) comes to this game with two FF. He’s an essential part of this defense. Safety Justin Reid, who leads the team in tackles with 83 and picks with five, will certainly be an integral part of Stanford’s defensive scheme. LB Bobby Okreke is tied for second in tackles with 76 and in sacks 4.0, and holds second alone in TFL with seven.
- Cardinal rush attack has to be effective
- Stanford needs the pass to give them balance
- Top defensive performers must come through
The USC Trojans have been good for 34.8 PPG. QB Sam Darnold (63.3 COMP%, 24 TDs, 12 INTs) is a force with which to be reckoned. However, he is vulnerable to the pick, and the Cardinal team has some very fine guys in the secondary. WR Deontay Burnett leads the Trojans with 73 catches for 966 yards and nine touchdowns. RB Ronald Jones II is a workhorse with 212 carries for 1,346 yards and 16 TDs. He’s averaging 6.3 YPA.
On the defensive line, Christian Rector (7.5 SCKs, 11.5 TFL) and Rasheem Green (8.0 SCKs, 10.5 TFL) are major performers against both running backs and quarterbacks. In the secondary, safety Marvell Tell III, who has three picks, and corner Jalen Jones, with four interceptions, will be important factors versus the pass. Their defense will need to play the entire game, as they have, at times, failed to do so. They are allowing an average of 26.2 PPG.
- Dynamic offense
- Defense is sound but can slack off
- Darnold needs to be accurate
Three Top Takeaways
Here are our three primary observations concerning our Stanford plays USC 2017 Pac-12 Championship pick-
- Stanford D needs a pick to win
- USC pass game edges Cardinal air attack
- Stanford ground attack barely edges USC’s
Our Pac-12 Free Pick
Who wins this battle? In many ways, we like USC. They definitely have a more productive and diverse offense, but the Cardinal club brings a better defense to the field. Darnold needs to play error-free. Our Stanford plays USC 2017 Pac-12 Championship pick is the Trojans at -3.5 and the over at 58.