No. 2 USC upended by Cardinal at Stanford Stadium

PALO ALTO, Calif. — Senior quarterback Matt Barkley has amassed 29 wins during his Trojan tenure. Much to his dismay, none of those will have come against Stanford.

In a night plagued with turnovers and inconsistency, No. 2 USC fell to the Cardinal at Stanford Stadium 21-14. It was the fourth-straight time the Trojans have lost to Stanford, making it the only conference foe Barkley has failed to beat in his career.

Matt Barkley went 20 for 41 with two interceptions and no touchdown passes in USC’s 21-14 loss to Stanford at Stanford Stadium. Carlo Acenas | Daily Trojan

Barkley threw for 241 yards and a pair of interceptions Saturday and was sacked a season high four times. As a team, the Trojans gained only 280 yards in total offense, due in large part to Stanford’s defensive front.

“That’s a great front seven,” USC coach Lane Kiffin said. “They’re even better than last year, giving a lot of people a lot of problems.”

The Trojans turned the ball over three times during the game and were unable to sack Stanford quarterback Josh Nunes. While Kiffin gave credit to the Cardinal, he was emphatic in saying a lot of the damage was self-inflicted.

“If you turn the ball over like we did … we were fortunate to be ahead seven at the half,” Kiffin said. “We didn’t play with a lot of discipline today.”

Things didn’t bode well from the opening kickoff for the Trojans, as Stanford receiver Ty Montgomery ran it back 64 yards. The Trojan defense held, however, and forced the Cardinal into a 47-yard field goal try that was ultimately missed by Jordan Williamson.

With about 11 minutes left in the first quarter, Barkley hit freshman receiver Nelson Agholor on a 49-yard pass as he was being pressured. Redd then drove it into the end zone for the game’s first points.

As was the theme Saturday, though, Stanford had an answer. Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor broke away for a 59-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and finished the night with 153 yards rushing. With a minute left in the first, the Trojans went for it on fourth-and-two and converted on a pass to sophomore tight end Randall Telfer. Redd later took it in for his second score of the day on a two-yard toss play with 11 minutes in the half.

After Stanford missed another field goal, Barkley was intercepted with a little more than a minute remaining in the half. Sophomore linebacker Dion Bailey returned the favor on the very next play, though, intercepting Nunes. It was his third interception of the season.

Barkley gave the Cardinal defense another gift, however, and was intercepted on the next play on what looked like an overthrow to Lee. USC’s offense never looked in sync, even later in the game.

“I thought we’d come up in the second half, up by seven … I thought we’d come out and start rolling,” Kiffin said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t.”

The strong second half Kiffin was hoping for never came, as a personal foul led to a fourth-and-17 punt. Taylor took a screen pass to the end zone at the end of the third quarter to knot the game at 14 heading into the final quarter. The Cardinal then took a 21-14 lead on a 37-yard touchdown pass to tight end Zach Ertz.

“I thought [Nunes] played great today,” Kiffin said. “He settled down and really made some big throws and [had] the two big runs … he looked like a veteran out there.”

Saturday’s loss is a major blow to the Trojans, who have their eyes set on a BCS title run. Despite the loss, Kiffin doesn’t believe USC’s season is ruined.

“It isn’t the end of the world,” Kiffin said. “We’ll get back on the plane, go back to work and get better and get ready for a home conference game next week.”

The Trojans face California on Saturday at 3 p.m. The game will be available on the Pac-12 Network.

15 replies
  1. Gabriel
    Gabriel says:

    Mario, you nailed it. Stanford pre-announced their strategy was to wear down USC and look to go ahead in the second half. How is it possible that Kiffen made no adjustments and just let Barkley get clobbered once Stanford’s defense was fulfilling their game plan and clobbering Barkley? Has any one seen any comments by Kiffen about his lack of adjusting to the game as it unfolded?

  2. Dan
    Dan says:

    The coaches poll just like US News & World Reports ranking of colleges- a poll. Everyone has an opinion, you can post it here.

    Remember- there are 8 more games, plus whoever leads the PAC-12 will go to the PAC-12 championship game. Do you really think it’ll be Stanford?

    • Boston Tree
      Boston Tree says:

      Unlike USC, Stanford is top ten in both the US News & World Reports college rankings and this week’s AP poll. Athletics and real academics do come together at Stanford!

      Go Cardinal.

    • perspective
      perspective says:

      Boston Tree,

      You obviously were not at the game, rushing the field shows the SC envy, and the drunken trash talking Indian/Cardinal/Tree fans the lack of class. And yes the Stanford band sucks, not musical in the least and not creative, same old schtick.

      • Boston Tree
        Boston Tree says:

        Perspective, considering the high number of Stanford rejects enrolled at USC I don’t think there’s any type of school envy. People in the northeast recognize Stanford as having a 6% admit rate (is USC’s admit rate even lower than 20%?) and being an elite university. USC is mistakenly thought of as a large public university. It’s also chiefly considered a football factory prone to probation. As for the Stanford Band, it’s an independent student run group. Unlike the music majors and future high school band directors in the Trojan Band, the Stanford Band produces doctors, lawyers, and leaders of industry. Considering Stanford’s endowment is nearly three times larger than USC, I would hold back on the ‘envy’ theory. But if it helps to ease your pain of losing once again to the smart nerds, then so be it.

  3. Jason
    Jason says:

    We tried….but let me say that this was the worst performace that I have seen from the trojans. To let MAtt be asked 5 times during the 4th quarter was just hideous. Oh and the personal foul that took place in the 3rd quarter after the play was finished by 90 was so uncalled for. If he hadn’t lost his temper and completed the foul, the game might have turned out quite differently. Very disappointed

  4. Dave
    Dave says:

    Well said, Mario. I agree completely. Getting Holmes back on the O Line will make a big difference. Time to regroup and turn it around for this Saturday!

  5. Mario
    Mario says:

    The worst performance Iv’e seen in a while. That looked like freshman O line being handled by seniors. While most will look at this loss and criticize the players, I see 75% of the blame goes to the coaching staff for not being able to see this coming and putting there player in a position to counter 7 and eight in the box. Even a fast and relentless rush can be countered. It’s called a designed roll out and screen pass. Put five receiver sets and switching the hot read receivers to keep them guessing. I couldn’t help but notice all the stunts they were using. Iv’e always been a big fan of stunts to confuse the O line. I saw no hard counts by Barkley to draw an all ready antsy O line offside To bad Monty Kiffin doesn’t think stunts could help us. There’s enough blame to go around, believe me, but the task at hand now has nothing to do with blame. We need to empower these fine young athletes with strength of spirit and strength of preparation. The strength of spirit falls on their shoulders and the strength of prep belongs squarely on the coaching staff. This is my opinion, what yours? FIGHT ON!!!

  6. DLe
    DLe says:

    Well at least they remain well liked for their ethical standards put forth by their coach and support of freedom of the press and free speech, Trojans S.U.C.

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