Tanner McKee threw for two touchdowns and ran for another one, and Stanford rolled over No. 14-ranked USC, 42-28, in the Pac-12 Conference opener for both teams Saturday at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Stanford (1-1, 1-0 Pac-12) was a considerable underdog after sputtering through a 24-7 loss to Kansas State in Arlington, Texas on Sept. 4.
But with McKee given full control of the offense after splitting snaps with Jack West in the opener, the Cardinal moved the ball effectively with a balance of run and pass.
McKee finished 16-of-23 passing for 234 yards, with touchdown throws of three yards to Elijah Higgins and six yards to Brycen Tremayne. Higgins led Stanford with five receptions for 67 yards.
Stanford finished with 39 yards rushing against Kansas State, but picked up 87 on Nathaniel Peat’s first-quarter touchdown carry on Saturday.
Peat led all ball-carriers with 115 yards on just six rushes, and he was one of three Cardinal players to run for touchdowns. McKee scored on a goal-line sneak, and Isaiah Sanders followed suit from two yards out.
USC (1-1, 0-1) had no answer for Stanford’s offense on one end, and failed to jump-start its own offense on the other.
Kedon Slovis went 27-of-42 passing for 223 yards. He connected with Drake London on an 11-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, part of London’s four-catch, 68-yard performance.
Slovis threw one interception, which Stanford’s Kyu Blu Kelly returned 31 yards for a touchdown. The pick-six came late in the third quarter sent fans streaming toward the exits, and it punctuated a night filled with errors plaguing USC.
A targeting penalty against placekicker Parker Lewis on the opening kickoff foreshadowed things to come for USC, which was penalized nine times for 109 yards. Lewis’ ejection left kicking duties to Alex Stadthaus, who connected on field goals of 24 and 33 yards.
Trojans flags also facilitated Stanford’s second touchdown drive. USC was penalized three times for 33 yards on the possession, including a pass interference on a would-be third-down stop.
An offsides that turned a Cardinal field-goal attempt on fourth-and-goal from the 7-yard line turned into a McKee touchdown pass from the 3-yard line to answer Keaontay Ingram’s goal-line touchdown run earlier in the quarter.
The Cardinal led for the rest of the way.
–Field Level Media