Grades: Stanford-USC


Matt Barkley was probably outplayed by Andrew Luck. But the USC signal-caller had a fine game in his own right, throwing some pretty passes to Marqise Lee and Robert Woods. For most of the game, though, Woods wasn't himself, and that ended up being a big factor.


Lane Kiffin can't keep Curtis McNeal out of the starting spot at tailback for much longer after the junior's performance in this one. The 5-7 bowling ball couldn't be stopped by the Cardinal in the second half even though he was doing it on his own.


Wes Horton and USC got to Luck for only the third and fourth times this season, so credit's due there. And the Trojans' own offensive line did a nice job keeping Barkley off the ground throughout. Both units were solid, if not spectacular.


The stats don't look as good as they did against Cal or Notre Dame, but this might have been USC's best defensive performance this season, considering the opponent. It's remarkable the Trojans ever forced the Cardinal into so many three-and-outs, and Nickell Robey's pick was huge.


Andre Heidari proved his sprained ankle wasn't as big a hindrance as Kiffin hinted it would be this week with his 50-yard field goal in the first half, and the Trojans' kickoff team stopped Stanford short a number of times. But the big punt return late hurt.


Kiffin's squad came to the Coliseum ready to play, and that's clearly a credit to his staff. Play-calling mostly made sense, and there were way fewer screen passes than usual. Defensively, Monte Kiffin's schemes and blitz calls have to earn respect from fans.