In the heyday of the Pete Carroll years, the idea that in 2018 the USC football team would measure itself by how it competes against the Stanford Cardinal would have led to some hearty laughs among the Trojans and their faithful.
Entering the 2007 matchup, USC had won 23 of the last 30, including five of six games under Carroll. Stanford’s historic 24-23 upset of the Trojans that year in the Coliseum, engineered by first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator David Shaw, led to a decade-long shakeup in the rivalry from which USC didn’t recover until beating the Cardinal twice last season on the way to the program’s first Pac-12 championship since 2008.
Shaw, now in his eighth season as Stanford’s head coach, has been the one constant during this defining stretch of what has become the Pac-12’s signature rivalry. USC coach Clay Helton has been a part of the last 10 meetings. They have been tenure-shaping for Lane Kiffin, Steve Sarkisian and Helton himself.