Southern California (1-1, 0-0 Pac-12) at No. 7 Stanford (1-0, 0-0 Pac-12), 8 p.m. (ABC)

Line: Stanford by 8½

Series: USC 61-31-3.


The Trojans are very much in need of a change of trajectory after finishing last season with losses to Stanford and Wisconsin under coach Clay Helton, and starting this season with a humiliating loss to No. 1 Alabama. A victory against Utah State last week was helpful, but another loss to the Cardinal increases the negativity around USC. Stanford is the favorite in the Pac-12, but its schedule is tricky. Losing one of only six home games would be problematic.


USC defensive line vs. Stanford offensive line. The Trojans are inexperienced and dealing with some injuries up front. A big game from Utah transfer Stevie Tu'ikolovatu in the middle would be welcome. Strong offensive line play has become a Stanford staple and in two victories against the Trojans last season, the Cardinal won up front. The Trojans didn't have much luck hanging in there against Alabama.


USC: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster. The junior is the Trojans' best offensive player. He has 17 touchdown catches in his career, including two last week. For a team still trying to get its new quarterbacks settled, getting Smith-Schuster involved is vital.

Stanford: TB Christian McCaffrey. Kind of obvious, but it all revolves around last season's AP college football player of the year. In the opener against Kansas State, the Wildcats were so intent on bottling up McCaffrey, they allowed QB Ryan Burns to pick them apart. And McCaffrey still broke off two long touchdown runs.


Fun matchup to watch for: McCaffrey split out against USC CB Adoree' Jackson. The Trojans junior returns kicks and plays some wide receiver. There are few better and more versatile athletes in the country. ... This is the third meeting between the teams in a 12-month span after they re-matched in the Pac-12 title game last season. ... The Cardinal have won six of the last eight meetings with USC.