Andre Heidari kicked a career-long 53-yard field goal with 2:30 remaining, J.R. Tavai forced a fumble to end Stanford's comeback bid, and No. 14 Southern California held off No. 13 Stanford 13-10 Saturday. With Stanford threatening to tie or take the lead, Tavai came from Kevin Hogan's blindside to knock the ball loose. Scott Felix recovered at the Trojans 26-yard-line with 19 seconds to play, giving new coach Steve Sarkisian his first major victory at USC.
It seemed Stanford was in control most of the game. Stanford had more total yards (413-291), first downs (22-16), and time of possession (33:47-26:13). Stanford had major problems in the red zone. In the first half, Stanford was on the USC 7 yard line with 19 seconds remaining in the half, when they got ticked for a substitution infraction penalty. Then, with it now 3rd and 6, they were charged with a delay of game penalty, making it 3rd and 11. They would have to settle for a field goal after an incomplete pass, and it seemed to be how the game was going to go.
In the third quarter, it was 1st and 10 at the USC 12 yard line. Stanford failed to get the first down and with 4th and 1 on the USC 3 yard line, Stanford elected to go for it and was stopped short, turning the ball over on downs.
If Stanford would have scored in the first half on a touchdown, or if they kicked a field goal instead of going for it on 4th down, the outcome of this game could be dramatically different. But, that's the game of football, hindsight can only tell you so much. USC head coach Steve Sarkisian got his first major victory as coach of USC. A "players' coach" as what Sarkisian is referred to, has really changed the environment of USC since taking over the job as an interim head coach in 2013.
USC will take on Boston College on September 13th, while Stanford will stay home to take on Army.