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Saturday, September 15, 2012
Grades: No. 21 Stanford 21, No. 2 USC 14

By Pedro Moura

STANFORD, Calif. -- For the fourth straight season, Stanford upset the USC Trojans, this time by a 21-14 score in another thriller between the two rivals. Here's a report card for the previously No. 2-ranked Trojans.

Matt Barkley made some really questionable decisions -- in particular the second straight interception he threw in the second quarter. This might have been D-caliber work for Barkley, honestly, but given that the Trojans' line struggled to protect him, he earns a low C.

Silas Redd continues to get the opportunities, but he did very little with them. Sure, he got into the end zone twice, but he averaged about a yard on the rest of his carries. When Curtis McNeal was on the field and not immediately stuffed, he showed the same burst he always has had.

Pretty much USC's entire offensive line struggled the entire day, and that was by far the biggest reason USC lost this game. Injured center Khaled Holmes was sorely missed. On defense, a short-handed line produced some pressure on Stanford's Josh Nunes -- but not near enough, obviously.

Considering everything that happened, the Trojans' defense actually didn't play poorly. Stepfan Taylor is an elite running back, and he used his skills to break through the front seven on a consistent basis. USC's secondary still has some serious tackling issues, the same ones that have plagued the team in recent years.

Kyle Negrete was fine -- not as good as last week but still good. The opening kickoff return didn't end up costing the Trojans, but it was still a poor play from the kick coverage unit. There weren't really any other impact chances for USC's special teams.

USC was outcoached in this game, clearly. Lane Kiffin really had no idea how to keep the pressure off of Barkley in the fourth quarter, and David Shaw and his staff dialed up all the right moves series after series. Can the Trojans' coach keep the wheels from falling off going forward?