USC returns home after two consecutive away games this week to host the No. 4 Stanford Cardinal. The Trojans (7-3, 4-2 Pac-12) look to end a streak of four straight losses to Stanford (8-1, 6-1 Pac-12), including a crushing 21-14 defeat last year in Palo Alto that ruined then-quarterback Matt Barkley’s Heisman Trophy chances and sent the Trojans plummeting down the Associated Press poll.
The Cardinal enter this week’s matchup ranked No. 5 in the AP Poll and No. 4 in the BCS Standings after knocking off previously unbeaten Oregon last week.
Stanford’s offense is similar to USC’s, with playcalling split almost evenly between the pass and the run. Running back Tyler Gaffney paces the run game, averaging 116.78 yards per game, good for third in the Pac-12.
Quarterback Kevin Hogan hasn’t put up flashy numbers this season, but he has played consistently for the Cardinal, averaging 177.9 passing yards per game along with 25.89 rushing yards per game.
“He’s very dangerous,” USC interim head coach Ed Orgeron said of Hogan. “And you have to commit so many people for the run that can make the big play and you have to account for him in the running game.”
Hogan’s favorite target this season has been wide receiver Ty Montgomery. In addition to hauling in 71 receiving yards per game, Montgomery excels on special teams, leading the nation in average yards per kickoff return with 33.64.
Prep not hype
Before USC’s 2012 football season, the phrase “Prep not hype” became popular among the Trojans. It was painted on the sideline of the practice field as a reminder for the team to not get caught up in excitement of entering the season ranked No. 1 in the nation.
Following that year’s disastrous 7-6 campaign, it appears the phrase was not taken to heart. But it seems appropriate once again for the upcoming game against the Cardinal, as the Trojans are coming off a 62-28 blowout of the California Golden Bears. The 34-point margin of victory was the largest of USC’s season so far, extending the team’s winning streak to three games, another season high.
But Stanford will come to town with its own momentum as well, having just knocked off then-No. 2 Oregon, dashing the Ducks’ national championship hopes for the second consecutive year.
With all the excitement surrounding the game, Orgeron is faced with the task of balancing the prep and the hype.
“We want energy,” Orgeron said. “We’re gonna focus on the task at hand. I totally trust that [the players are] gonna follow the plan on a daily basis and we’ll be ready to play Saturday.”
Get up for GameDay
ESPN’s College GameDay program will travel to USC’s campus on Saturday, adding even more commotion to the matchup between the Trojans and the Cardinal.
USC has been featured on College GameDay at least once every year since 2003, and has posted a 15-7 record when it appears on the program, though the Trojans have lost in their last four appearances on the show.
This year, for the first time, the program will be filmed at McCarthy Quad instead of outside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. ESPN’s Colin Cowherd will host his radio show on campus on Friday.
All of this buzz is bound to create a hostile atmosphere at the Coliseum on Saturday night, and Orgeron has a few words of advice for the Trojan faithful.
“Come early and support your players,” Orgeron said. “They need you, the coaching staff needs you. [The fans] mean the world to us. Come early and stay late.”
Follow Aubrey on Twitter @aubreykragen
“Trojans look to keep focus amid GameDay presence” (Nov. 12) stated that Colin Cowherd will host his radio show on Saturday. Cowherd will be hosting his show on Friday. The article has been edited online to reflect this change.
The Daily Trojan regrets the errors.