LOS ANGELES (AP) — Christian McCaffrey showed off his trademark versatility, slipping out of the backfield for a 56-yard touchdown reception and diving over the pile for a 1-yard score, and No. 7 Stanford beat Southern California 27-10 on Saturday night.
The AP player of the year and Heisman Trophy runner-up had a routine 260 all-purpose yards.
Stanford drew most of the USC defense into the box with a steady dose of inside runs before receiver Michael Rector went 56 yards for a touchdown on a reverse with 3:26 left in the third quarter to make it 27-10.
“I thought (the Trojans) were chasing,” said Stanford coach David Shaw, adding that he told Rector: “Stay wide and run fast. Brilliant coaching by me.”
The Cardinal (2-0, 1-0 Pac-12) have now won seven of nine against the Trojans, the best nine-game stretch for the Cardinal in the history of a rivalry that covers 96 games and more 111 years.
“We don’t use anyone but us to set our standards,” Shaw said.
USC (0-1 Pac-12) is 1-2 for the first time since 2000, when the Trojans started 1-4 in Pete Carroll’s debut season as coach.
USC: The Trojans looked like a team still trying to find an offensive identity and some creativity under coach Clay Helton. Their best player, receiver JuJu Schuster-Smith, had three catches for 34 yards. Max Browne (18 for 28 for 191 yards) was solid, but the Trojans did little to stretch the field and played it safe on several third-and-longs. Mobile freshman quarterback Sam Darnold’s only extended playing time came late in the fourth quarter.
Stanford: The Cardinal were content to mash away against a thin USC defensive line. McCaffrey was the workhorse between the tackles, carrying 30 times for 165 yards.
“Sometimes when the game’s on the line, we’re OK getting 5, 5, 5, 12, 5, 4 yards a pop if that’s what it takes to win and that’s what they’re giving us,” said McCaffrey, who surpassed 200 all-purpose yards for the eighth straight game.
USC: The Trojans have a short week of preparation to get ready for another road game against a smash-mouth team. USC plays at Utah on Friday night.
Stanford: This was the start of the toughest stretch of the season for the Cardinal. UCLA is up first next week. Stanford has owned the Bruins lately, winning eight straight meetings. After that, Stanford has its own quick turnaround road game on a Friday night at No. 8 Washington.
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