PALO ALTO, CA - SEPTEMBER 08:  Bryce Love #20 of the Stanford Cardinal celebrates after scoring on a seven yard touchdown run against the USC Trojans in the first quarter of an NCAA football game at Stanford Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

No. 10 Stanford opened its Pac-12 slate with a 17-3 win over No. 17 USC at Stanford Stadium on Saturday night.

Running back Bryce Love came alive with 22 carries for 136 yards and a touchdown, and quarterback K.J. Costello went 16-of-27 for 183 yards and a score to push Stanford to 2-0.

USC’s offense, which was not nearly as prolific, produced 3.1 yards per carry and received a shaky outing from freshman quarterback JT Daniels. The former 5-star recruit finished 16-of-34 for 215 yards and two interceptions as USC dropped to 1-1 following a win over UNLV in its season opener.

     

Bryce Love’s Heisman Stock Shows Signs of Life

Fear not, Stanford fans: Bryce Love has arrived.

One week after last year’s second-leading rusher was bottled up to the tune of 29 yards against San Diego State, the 2017 Heisman Trophy runner-up returned to form by cracking the century mark and scoring his first touchdown of the season.

It’s a good thing Love found his footing, too, considering his primary Heisman Trophy competition has started the season scalding hot.

Chief among that group is Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa—who has racked up 455 passing yards, 46 rushing yards and seven total touchdowns after beating out Jalen Hurts for the starting job.

Likewise, Oklahoma signal-caller Kyler Murray has blistered opposing defenses with 515 passing yards, 92 rushing yards and seven scores in a pair of wins.

As far as backfield candidates go, Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor has logged a cool 199 yards per game on the ground with five touchdowns to his name.

Following Saturday’s effort, Love is back on the radar with those big names.

But in order to stay there, he’s going to need more consistent results running between the tackles after his three biggest runs (59 yards, 28 yards and 14 yards) were all bounced to the outside.

A full-fledged eruption should be in store next weekend against UC Davis.

     

USC Offense Still Work-In-Progress with JT Daniels at QB

Last season, Georgia watched as true freshman Jake Fromm took the reins and led the Bulldogs to a spot in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Likewise, Alabama hoisted the title hardware thanks to a heroic performance from Tagovailoa, then a true freshman, in the all-SEC tilt.

Fair or not, those efforts skewed the expectations that have been placed on first-year quarterbacks—including USC’s JT Daniels.

And after Saturday’s effort, it’s safe to say the Trojans offense will need a few more weeks, at least, until it settles into a rhythm with Daniels under center.

As one would expect, the 18-year-old didn’t look all that comfortable against a swarming Stanford front seven, and he made a slew of errant throws—including an interception in the end zone on a throw that could have helped cut the deficit to 17-10 with 2:22 remaining in regulation.

Of course, the offense’s struggles weren’t all on Daniels.

USC’s protection was in a constant state of disarray, and the ground game didn’t take any pressure off the freshman in a winnable game.

At the very least, though, it’s clear the Trojans will need to exercise patience in the weeks ahead.

     

K.J. Costello Proves He Can Keep Stanford’s Offense Afloat

With defenses stacking the box to contain Love, the pressure shifted to Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello to keep the chains moving early on.

Lucky for head coach David Shaw, the junior was up to the task.

Although Costello didn’t light it up statistically, he led two first-half scoring drives and made a pinpoint touchdown pass to tight end Colby Parkinson late in the first half to help put Stanford up by 14:

Now, it has to be noted that Costello had the benefit of working from almost exclusively clean pockets against a nonexistent USC pass rush.

But Given Love’s inability to find daylight in the first half—he had 40 yards total during that stretch, 37 of which came on the opening drive—Costello’s composure allowed the Cardinal to seize momentum and never look back.

Costello will need to follow that blueprint in big spots on the road against Oregon (Sept. 22) and Notre Dame (Sept. 29) if Stanford wants to keep its resume blemish-free entering October.

     

What’s Next?

USC will head to the Lone Star State for a nationally televised showdown with the Texas Longhorns on Saturday. Stanford, meanwhile, will enjoy a third straight home game when UC Davis comes to town.

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