USC has not defeated Stanford since 2008, a four-game losing streak that began with the infamous “What’s your deal?” blowout at the Coliseum and continued with last season’s loss at Stanford Stadium.
Ed Orgeron, the Trojans’ interim coach, has been a part of the last three games, including the Trojans’ triple-overtime loss at the Coliseum two years ago.
On Sunday, Orgeron reviewed last year’s 21-14 defeat, and also took stock of another physical Cardinal team that moved up to No. 5 in the polls and No. 4 in the Bowl Championship Series standings.
“You have to fight with them toe to toe,” Orgeron said during a teleconference with reporters. “You need a complete game.”
Stanford is 8-1 overall and 6-1 in the Pac-12 Conference after defeating Oregon, 26-20, last Thursday.
USC improved to 7-3 overall, 4-2 in the Pac-12 and 4-1 under Orgeron with a 62-28 victory at California.
The effort did not push the Trojans into the Top 25, but they did garner votes.
They will have a national stage to make their case when they play Stanford at the Coliseum on Saturday. ESPN’s “College GameDay” show will originate from USC.
“It’s good for the university, it’s great for recruiting, it’s great for the crowd,” Orgeron said.
Orgeron again praised USC’s offensive line and described the punt return unit as “superb” after the Trojans tied an NCAA record by returning three punts for touchdowns against Cal. One of the punts was blocked.
The Trojans’ first-unit defense “played OK,” Orgeron said.
The defense will be bolstered against Stanford if end Leonard Williams returns from a shoulder injury that kept him sidelined against Cal. Orgeron said the sophomore is expected to play Saturday.
Tailback Silas Redd, however, is questionable because of a knee injury suffered against Cal. If Redd does not play, and Tre Madden remains sidelined because of a hamstring injury, Javorius Allen and freshman Ty Isaac would be the only available scholarship tailbacks.
Trojans players sounded confident after the victory over Cal.
“We handled our business, and Stanford is coming off a big win,” freshman safety Su’a Cravens said. “We’ve got momentum rolling. It’s going to be a great game.”
Said junior tight end Xavier Grimble: “Man, I just love college football. You’re going to get a great opportunity to play against a great team in a great atmosphere — that’s what it’s all about.”
After UCLA linebacker Myles Jack helped the Bruins to victory over Arizona by also starring at running back, Orgeron was asked if he would consider playing Cravens on offense as well.
“We think he has enough on his plate,” Orgeron said. “I wouldn’t mind him doing that in the near future if he’s willing to do it. I just don’t think we can afford to do it right now.”
The Trojans have not lost a fumble in 179 rushing attempts in their last five games, Orgeron said. . . . Kicker Andre Heidari missed a field-goal try and an extra-point attempt against Cal. Orgeron acknowledged concern about the junior, but said there had been no thought of reopening the kicking competition again. “It’s always a concern when we don’t make the kicks we’re supposed to,” he said.