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Sunday, November 17, 2013
What we learned: Week 12

By Kyle Bonagura

Here are a couple things we learned from USC upsetting Stanford on Saturday:

BCS bowl streak in jeopardy: Stanford controlled its postseason destiny heading into Saturday’s trip to USC. Win there, beat Cal, beat the Pac-12 South champ and a return trip to the Rose Bowl was in the cards. Now? It’s not so clear. Oregon figures to represent the Pac-12 North in the conference title game, which will send the winner to the Rose Bowl. For Stanford to play in a BCS game, it’ll need an at-large berth and with a pair of losses, that’s no guarantee. The Cardinal’s 2010 and 2011 at-large berths were given after they finished the regular season with just one loss.

Play calling again in question: Just as Stanford’s play calling at the end of the Utah loss came into question, the same can be said in the loss to USC. Stanford chose to go with the Wildcat on first-and-goal with the score tied at 17. It dropped Stanford back five yards on a drive that eventually ended on an interception. Stanford got the ball back with the score still tied and elected to pass on a second-and-1. Quarterback Kevin Hogan was intercepted on the play and USC turned it into the game’s winning points.

Offense can be balanced: There were a few drives where Stanford was as balanced it had been offensively since very early in the season against lighter competition. That ability to mix the run with the pass was impressive, but its lack of consistency -- and pair of interceptions -- proved costly.