STANFORD — It seems whenever USC plays Stanford, they just can’t beat the Cardinal.
Even without Andrew Luck, Stanford seems to be doing just fine without him. Down 14-7, Josh Nunes led the Cardinal to a 14-point second half comeback as the Cardinal upset the Trojans, 21-14.
Still on the farm is Stepfan Taylor, who was the MVP of this game. The senior running back had 213 all-purpose yards, a 59-yard TD run and a 23-yard TD catch. He also set a personal milestone surpassing 3,000 yards rushing in his brilliant college career.
And in his second year as head coach of the Cardinal, David Shaw might be having his best season yet as he emerges from the shadow cast by former coach Jim Harbaugh and quarterback Luck:
“We don’t want to be that team that’s known for one victory. We want to be that team that’s known for victory after victory, about consistency…stacking wins on top of wins. Stacking tough practices on top of tough practices and approaching every day like it’s the same. And we say it all the time, it’s not who we play but how we play.”
After a two-year suspension from bowl games, USC is not only eligible again for the postseason, but favored to play in the BCS title game. After this stunning loss, they’ll probably have to run the table the rest of the way just to have that chance.
After scoring two touchdowns in the first half on a pair of 1-yard Silas Redd scoring runs, momentum appeared to be on the Trojans side but they only led by 7 points at halftime.
They wouldn’t score again. That surprised USC head coach Lane Kiffin:
“They did a great job, I was shocked. I thought we’d come out in the second half, up by seven (points) and I thought we were fortunate to be there. A lot of stuff had not gone our way because of things what we’d done. So I thought we’d come out, and start rolling. Unfortunately we didn’t and once again give credit to the veteran group over there and a good (coaching) staff.”
Quarterback Matt Barkley, a favored candidate for the Heisman Trophy, has never beaten Stanford. Barkley passed for 254 yards but was intercepted twice and sacked four times. He is now 0-for-4 lifetime vs. the Cardinal.
Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov told SFBay:
“We just have the belief in this team that we were going into this like it was a heavyweight bout. Anytime you’ve got two good teams going up against one another, you’re going to trade blows. So we just had to stay confident within ourselves and just keep coming back no matter what the situations, circumstances, and we did that.”
Last year, Luck engineered a 56-48 triple-overtime come from behind victory at the L.A. Coliseum. Arguably, shutting out the second ranked team in the country in the second half might be as impressive as a triple-OT win.