Stanford coach David Shaw doesn’t see a problem with Southern California spending this past weekend with its feet up resting while any of their potential opponents in the Pac-12 title game were playing.
Shaw believes the Trojans earned it.
“I think we’re just more weathered. I think both teams are tired,” Shaw said. “Someone asked me if we won this game, Washington State didn’t beat Washington, was it kind of fair that USC had a bye. I said, Yeah, they just went 12 straight. They survived 12 straight and won the South. They deserve to have a bye. So there’s no issue with that whatsoever.”
The 14th-ranked Cardinal will take on No. 11 USC in the Pac-12 championship game on Friday night in Santa Clara, California. Stanford got the help it needed on Saturday and it came early in the evening. Instead of the Cardinal waiting late into the night to see if Washington could help them out in the Apple Cup, it was clear by halftime in Seattle that Stanford would be the North Division champion as the Huskies held a 24-0 lead over Washington State. The Huskies ended up winning 41-17, ruining Washington State’s chance at its first division title.
Of course, the Trojans were fine with whatever the outcome. They were sitting out at while both of their potential opponents were playing rivalry games.
“For our players to go from 1-2 to win eight out of nine, get back to the Pac-12 championship game says a lot about who they are, a lot about what we do, a lot about our coaching staff,” Shaw said. “Now we have six days to get ready for a good team who is on a bye.”
It doesn’t seem like a fair situation with the Trojans rested. The optics would have been even worse if Washington State had won on the road then turned around and had to play six days later. But Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said the situation is just the reality of how the season played out.
“There are very certainly perceived inequities at different times of the year. If you’re a USC fan, you didn’t think it was fair earlier in the season when you didn’t have a week off,” Scott said. “At this time of year, you’re in the conference championship game and it’s an advantage. For all the things that happened during the season for any particular school you could look at and say ‘this is an advantage, this is a disadvantage.’ You could say playing 12 in a row hurt them earlier in the season and now maybe it helps them.”
The Trojans would have liked another shot at Washington State after the Cougars derailed some of USC’s championship aspirations with a 30-27 win in Pullman in late September.
Certainly, Stanford wanted another chance at USC. The Cardinal were overwhelmed in a 42-24 USC victory in the second week of the regular season, giving up 623 total yards, the most ever allowed by a Shaw coached team. While Sam Darnold did his part throwing for 316 yards and four touchdowns, it was the 307 yards rushing by the Trojans that was more stunning. Ronald Jones II and Stephen Carr both topped 100 yards on the ground.
Bryce Love rushed for 160 yards in that loss, but that was a Stanford team quarterbacked by Keller Chryst, not K.J. Costello. Costello threw a career-high four touchdown passes in Stanford’s convincing victory over Notre Dame on Saturday.
“I think we played well in that game against USC, I really do,” Shaw said. “Keller Chryst played well in that game. We didn’t protect him very well. I thought they played lights out. They were phenomenal.”
AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow contributed to this report.
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