Both Stanford and Southern California beat up on the same opponent in their most recent games.
However, the Cardinal have had an extra week to prepare and are playing at home.
Those factors could put the top-ranked Trojans’ 12-game winning streak in jeopardy as they open Pac-10 play Saturday with a visit to Palo Alto, Calif.
“We can’t overlook any team. We have to look at every team as the best we’re going to face,” USC cornerback Justin Wyatt said.
Last Saturday, the Trojans (3-0) had another outstanding offensive performance in a 42-10 victory over BYU.
That game came one week after the Cardinal (2-0) routed BYU 37-10.
“I know they’re a better team than last season,” Trojans wide receiver Chris McFoy said. “I watched them against BYU—they’re a really strong team.”
The bye week gave Stanford coach Buddy Teevens extra time to get his team ready to face an offense that looks every bit as good as it did last season en route to winning a share of the national championship.
“In my opinion, by far they are the best team in the country,” Teevens said.
“It’s just a great opportunity to really test yourself against the best.”
The Trojans, whose 12-game win streak is second-longest in the nation to Boise State (14), have seen quarterback Matt Leinart make himself an early Heisman Trophy candidate while Reggie Bush and LenDale White have formed a formidable ground attack.
Leinart threw for 236 yards and two touchdowns, White added 110 rushing yards and both ran for scores against BYU.
Bush had a breakout game on the ground, rushing for a career-high 124 yards on 14 carries and scoring twice. The all-purpose threat has already caught four TD passes from Leinart.
“He’s so versatile. He can run and he can catch. Him and LenDale are two very special players,” Leinart said. “I was happy we were able to run the ball because they have a stingy run defense.”
Stanford’s offense, meanwhile, has improved significantly from last year, when it averaged 16.9 points per game. Led by sophomore Trent Edwards, the Cardinal have totaled 80 points and 834 yards of offense through two games.
Edwards has five touchdown passes and no interceptions in 2004 after finishing with four TDs and having nine passes picked off last season as a redshirt freshman.
The Stanford defense has surrendered just 13 points, though this is a significantly tougher test than what it faced against BYU or San Jose State. There are nine starters back from last year’s defensive unit that was ripped apart by USC in a 44-21 defeat.
The Trojans have won the last two meetings after losing the previous three, and these teams have split the last six games at Palo Alto.
The last time the Cardinal faced a top-ranked team was in 1990, and they pulled off a 36-31 upset of Notre Dame in South Bend. That’s their only victory in five tries against No. 1 teams, including an 0-2-1 record against USC.