USC Football Opens Pac-12 Play By Visiting No. 7 Stanford

    Sept. 11, 2016

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    For the sixth season in a row, USC is playing the Pac-12’s first conference game of the year, this time traveling to face No. 7 Stanford, the defending Pac-12 champion. In fact, this is the third consecutive year that USC begins league play versus the Cardinal, and the fourth time in 5 years. The Trojans and Cardinal met twice last fall, both Stanford victories, including in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Stanford has won 6 of the last 8 meetings, but USC won in its most recent visit to Palo Alto (the Trojans have lost just 5 times there since 1972). Before last year’s Pac-12 Championship Game clash, the previous 6 meetings were decided by 10 points or less. Stanford is Troy’s oldest rival (the first game was in 1905). The game will air nationally on ABC-TV. USC is coming off a big bounce back home win over Utah State. In that victory, coach Clay Helton’s Trojans got efficient play out of QBs Max Browne and Sam Darnold, hard running from TB Justin Davis, clutch catching from WRs JuJu Smith-Schuster (a Biletnikoff Award candidate) and Darreus Rogers, solid blocking from offensive linemen like All-American nominee OT Zach Banner, dependable tackling from defenders like 2015 Freshman All-American ILB Cameron Smith and a dynamic scoring punt return from CB-WR-RET Adoree’ Jackson, a Thorpe and Hornung candidate. Stanford is rested, with a bye following a home victory over Kansas State 2 weeks ago. Head coach David Shaw (whose uncle played at USC) has a squad with 5 returing starters on offense and 6 on defense. The player everyone comes to watch is 2015 All-American and Heisman Trophy finalist RB Christian McCaffrey, last season’s AP Player of the Year and Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year when he set the NCAA season all-purpose yardage record. QB Ryan Burns has assumed the signalcalling job, while WR Michael Rector is one of the team’s top pass catchers. Leading Cardinal tacklers in the 2016 opener were S Zach Hoffpauir, ILB Bobby Okereke and OLB Peter Kalambayi. The USC men’s water polo team will battle Stanford in Palo Alto prior to the game, while Troy’s men’s tennis team will be playing in nearby Napa during the weekend.