No. 11 USC takes on No. 14 Stanford for Pac-12 title
No. 11 Southern California (10-2, 8-1 Pac-12, CFP No. 10) vs. No. 14 Stanford (9-3, 7-2, CFP No. 12), Pac-12 championship at Santa Clara, California, Friday, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Line: USC by 3.
Series record: USC leads 62-32-3.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
With the Rose Bowl hosting a playoff semifinal, the winner of the Pac-12 title game will head to the Fiesta Bowl for a premier matchup in a New Year’s Six game. The loser will go to a lower-tier bowl with USC likely targeted for the Alamo Bowl and Stanford for the Holiday Bowl.
USC QB Sam Darnold vs. Stanford S Justin Reid. Darnold is one of the nation’s top quarterbacks and had one of his best games against the Cardinal in a 42-24 win in September when he completed 21 of 26 passes for 316 yards and four TDs. The strength of Stanford’s defense is in the secondary led by Reid, who has five INTs, including one against Darnold in the first meeting.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
USC: RB Ronald Jones. Jones ran for 116 yards and two TDs in the first meeting against Stanford. He has 1,346 yards rushing and 17 total TDs this season, taking big pressure off Darnold.
Stanford: QB K.J. Costello. Costello didn’t play in the first meeting but has been improving each week since taking over as starter from Keller Chryst in the beginning of November. He threw for four TDs last week against Notre Dame.
FACTS & FIGURES
Stanford has won seven of 10 in series, including Pac-12 title game in 2015. ... The team from the North Division has won all six Pac-12 championship games, including three titles for the Cardinal. ... The Trojans are coming off a bye after playing 12 straight weeks, while Stanford has just five days off following win over Notre Dame. ... USC WR Deontay Burnett had nine catches for 121 yards and two TDs in first meeting. He needs 34 yards to record the 18th 1,000-yard receiving season in Trojans history. ... USC LB Uchenna Nwosu had five of his 13 deflections in the first meeting. ... Stanford has won eight of nine following 1-2 start. ... Cardinal RB Bryce Love’s 8.6 ypc are highest ever in FBS for player with at least 215 carries. ... Love needs 172 yards rushing to break Christian McCaffrey’s single-season Stanford record of 2,019. ... Cardinal have allowed six sacks in past nine games.
AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org