Top 25 Football: Southern Cal 45, Stanford 23
STANFORD, Calif. ó After a sluggish first half by Southern California, it looked as if there could be another Stanford stunner.
Then the Trojans took control of the trenches and the game to put last year’s shocking loss to the Cardinal to rest.
Stafon Johnson ran for two second-half touchdowns and C.J. Gable also scored twice to help No. 6 USC overcome an early deficit and deal a dose of revenge to Stanford with a 45-23 victory Saturday.
“I felt like we owed them something,” linebacker Rey Maualuga said. “They came into our house and got one from us. I definitely feel like we owed them a favor.”
It took a while for the Trojans (9-1, 7-1 Pac-10) to give it to Stanford (5-6, 4-4) as they failed to make a first down until the second quarter and were lucky to go into the half tied at 17 because of two long kickoff returns.
But in the second half, USC kept Stanford off the scoreboard until the final play and ran for 243 yards in the kind of dominating performance that was lacking last year when the Trojans lost 24-23 to Stanford as a 41-point home favorite.
“When we got in the locker room, it just wasn’t going to be,” coach Pete Carroll said. “These guys just were not going to let this game stay the same. Both lines of scrimmage just went crazy.”
Last year’s loss still stung 13 months later and there were plenty of reminders in the first sellout in three seasons at Stanford Stadium.
From the highlights of the game played on the video board during warmups, to the “Greatest Upset Ever” T-shirts worn by many fans in the crowd to the Stanford band spelling out the score of last year’s game at halftime, the Cardinal did their best to extend the memory.
Their play on the field early in the game did even more to upset the Trojans. Stanford dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball early in the game before Gable’s 93-yard kickoff return tied the game before the half.
“There was a lot of talk about revenge coming into this game,” Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh said. “That’s a word I don’t use in college football. We knew USC was coming to play and our team came out and played a better first half.”