10th-ranked Stanford stifles No. 17 USC in Pac-12 opener

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STANFORD — Bryce Love ran for 136 yards and a touchdown and No. 10 Stanford made talented quarterback JT Daniels look like a freshman in a 17-3 victory over No. 17 Southern California on Saturday night.

The Cardinal (2-0, 1-0 Pac-12) got an early touchdown run by Love and then tormented Daniels much of the night, holding USC to its fewest points in this series since a shutout in 1941. Stanford took control of the game late in the second quarter with a strip sack on fourth down against Daniels that set up K.J. Costello’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Colby Parkinson that gave Stanford a 14-0 lead.

Daniels made an impressive debut last week for the Trojans (1-1, 0-1) when he threw for 282 yards and a touchdown against UNLV. But duplicating that against Stanford proved far more difficult with the Cardinal using blitzes to pressure and confuse Daniels at times.

Daniels went 16 for 34 for 215 yards with interceptions on his final two passes of the night. He was forced to leave the game for one possession in the first half after a hard hit by Joey Alfieri.

It was another big play by Alfieri that proved big late in the first half. Coach Clay Helton went for it on fourth-and-2 from the Cardinal 40, but Alfieri came free on a blitz and knocked the ball loose. Bobby Okereke recovered at the Stanford 49 and the Cardinal drove down field to score on Costello’s TD pass with 34 seconds left in the half.

Love provided most of the rest of the offense after getting held to 29 yards on 18 carries last week against San Diego State. His 28-yard run sparked the opening drive that ended with his 6-yard score. He added a 59-yard run in the third quarter to set up a field goal.

The takeaway

USC: Daniels was sacked four times and pressured many more but still showed some promise at times. He connected on a well-thrown 45-yard deep pass to Michael Pittman to set up a field goal. He nearly had a TD on that drive but Amon-Ra St. Brown couldn’t come down inbounds with a pass in the end zone. Daniels also made an impressive escape on a near sack, turning it into 8-yard gain to convert a third down. But USC ended up with just three points on six drives that reached at least the Stanford 40.

Stanford: Costello showed he can succeed even in situations when the defense knows a pass is coming. He converted a long third down to Kaden Smith on the opening drive to help set up a touchdown. He then found Smith for 25 yards on third-and-23 in the third quarter to set up a field goal. He finished 6 for 8 for 76 yards on third down.

Up next

USC: Visits Texas on Saturday.

Stanford: Host UC Davis on Saturday.

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