USC Looking For Revenge Against Stanford in Pac 12 Championship
Wayne Root: USC Looking For Revenge Against Stanford in Pac 12 Championship
I've been talking about the Pac 12 all season long here in my web articles. So, naturally my last pre-bowl college football discussion is going to be about the championship game matching Stanford and USC this Saturday. This could really be a great game. Though, it's disappointing that the winner has no chance to earn a berth in the Final Four. The selection committee's love affair with the Big 10 took care of that!
The Stanford/USC winner will earn a trip to the Rose Bowl. That's plenty of motivation for either side. Then, maybe they'll get a chance to embarrass the Big 10 once again in Pasadena on New Year's Day.
These teams played earlier in the season, with Stanford winning on the road 41-31. Both can look fantastic one week but mortal the next. I'm still amazed Stanford lost their season opener at Northwestern. And, that home loss to Oregon a couple of weeks ago was probably proof the team shouldn't play for a national championship. You can't lose games like that at home!
USC was registering very high in Las Vegas Power Ratings polls deep into the season. That was true even after a home loss to Washington. This was seen as a team that had among the best talent in the nation...and Vegas rates teams on talent. Don't forget that USC was favored by -9.5 in that first meeting with Stanford! Ultimately, a poor result at Notre Dame, a very ugly looking win at horrible Colorado, and then a decisive loss at Oregon served as a wake-up call to the markets.
USC is no longer seen as a national superpower. Stanford is favored by four points this Saturday. Maybe the Cardinal are getting a little bit of "home field" consideration since the game is being played in San Clara in the home stadium of the San Francisco 49ers. That's still a big difference from Stanford being +9.5 at the LA Coliseum the first time around.
Has the line overreacted to recent events? Should revenge count for something as you handicap the Pac 12 title tilt? I can't tell you my personal selection in this game in an article. That wouldn't be fair to my paying customers. I will make these points...
*I think Stanford was saving something last week when they played Notre Dame. We'll see some new wrinkles from the Cardinal with a Rose Bowl berth on the line.
*I don't think it was a good tactical choice for the USC program to announce the hiring of Clay Helton as permanent head coach before this game. It would have made more sense to hint to players that a win over Stanford would turn that hope into reality. Instead, that potential motivator has been taken away. Pat Haden made life easier for himself by pulling the trigger early. That may hurt this week because players aren't playing to save a man's job.
*USC wasn't as impressive last week vs. UCLA as the final score made it sound. They had a punt return TD and a fumble return TD. Can't count on that every week! Total yardage was only 410-367 for USC, and UCLA actually won yards-per-play 5.6 to 4.8. If USC doesn't get cheap points this week, can they hang with Stanford? I'm glad they won for me as an Inner Circle play on my service. But, I expected better stats.
I often take underdogs in outright upset calls. If I go that route this week, you can be sure that REVENGE is going to be a big factor. But...I don't mind jumping in on favorites in blowout position. You saw that with my pick on Oklahoma over Okie State last week, and then both Seattle (-) and Indianapolis (-) in the NFL. I'll say this. The Pac 12 championship game is likely to be part of my selection mix. And, I'm looking forward to a VERY big weekend!
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Back with you again in a few days...and you should have no trouble guessing which NFL game I'll be talking about. I was born in New York as a true S.O.B. (son of a butcher!). That means that huge Jets/Giants game will smack dab in the center of my radar. Both teams are hoping to reach the playoffs. But, only one can win this Sunday.
Another huge week on the sports betting calendar. That means it's time for YOU to go to W.A.R. alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!
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