THE CARDINAL: Stanford will attempt to end its three-game losing skid on Saturday when the Cardinal hosts USC in the 81st meeting between the two schools. The game will be televised regionally on ABC, Stanford's first appearance on ABC since last year's Rose Bowl vs. Wisconsin. USC, which began the season 3-0 and ranked as high as eighth nationally, has also lost its last three games and finds itself in an unfamiliar position - last in the Pac-10 Conference with an 0-3 record. The Trojans' 0-3 conference record marks their worst Pac-10 start since they also lost the first three league games in 1957. The USC series is second only to Cal as the longest in Stanford history. Saturday's contest is also Stanford's Homecoming game.
STANFORD-USC SERIES: While the Trojans lead the all-time series wtih Stanford 52-25-3, the two teams have been very competitive the last nine games (1991-99). Stanford has won four of those nine games, including splitting the four games played at Stanford Stadium. USC has won three of the five games played at the L.A. Coliseum over the last nine seasons. The two teams have played every year since 1946. Prior to the last nine games, USC had won 11 straight over Stanford from 1980-90 and was 14-0-1 from '76-90. At Stanford Stadium, the Cardinal had lost 11 straight to the Trojans from 1972-91 prior to beating USC in 1992. A year ago, Stanford's 35-31 win over USC was the Cardinal's first at the Coliseum since 1991 and only their second since 1975. Results of the last four games at Stanford Stadium include: 1998, USC 34, Stanford 9, 1996, Stanford 24, USC 20, 1994, USC 27, Stanford 20, 1992, Stanford 23, USC 9.
CONFERENCE CATALOGUE: Stanford is 10-3 in its last 13 Pacific-10 Conference games. During this time, the Cardinal is 3-0 vs. Washington State, 2-0 vs. California, 1-0 vs. USC, UCLA and Arizona State, 1-1 vs. Oregon State and Arizona and 0-1 vs. Washington. Stanford won its final two conference games in '98, went 7-1 in '99 en route to the Pac-10 championship and is 1-2 thus far in '00.
TOUGH OPPONENTS: Stanford's 2000 schedule has been ranked as one of the toughest in all of college football. Eight of Stanford's 11 opponents have been nationally ranked this season, including six that are ranked in the top-25 this week. Stanford has played four consecutive ranked opponents in Texas, Arizona, Notre Dame and Oregon State and Saturday would have been five straight had USC not fallen out of the national polls this week. The Cardinal's next four opponents (USC, Washington, UCLA, Arizona State) have a combined record of 16-8 - a winning percentage of .667? The Cardinal beat No. 5 ranked Texas 27-24 on September 16, but have lost their last three games to nationally ranked Arizona, Notre Dame and Oregon State. Still ahead is USC (3-3), #9 Washington (5-1) at home, at #24 UCLA (4-2), at home vs. Arizona State (4-2) and the Big Game at Cal. Stanford's 11 opponents this season have a combined record of 43-24 and a winning percentage of .642.
USC-STANFORD COACHING TIES: Stanford defensive coordinator Kent Baer and USC's Hue Jackson were both on Bruce Snyder's staff at Arizona State in 1992-94. Cardinal offensive coordintor Bill Diedrick and USC's Steve Morton were both on Jim Lambright's staff at Washington from 1994-97. USC's A.J. Christoff coached at Stanford in 1983.
HEAD COACH TYRONE WILLINGHAM: Now in his sixth season at the helm of the Cardinal football program, Tyrone Willingham has the longest tenure on The Farm since John Ralson's nine-year run from 1963-71. Willingham has compiled an overall record of 32-31-1. His resume during his first five years at Stanford includes three bowl games, two Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors (1995, '99), a Pac-10 championship and a Rose Bowl appearance. Willingham previously held assistant coaching positions at Central Michigan ('78-79), Michigan State (1980-82), North Carolina State (1983-85), Rice (1986-88), Stanford (1989-91) and the Minnesota Vikings (1992-94). He first came to Stanford as the running backs coach under Dennis Green in 1989, then returned to The Farm as as head coach to replace Bill Walsh on Nov. 28, 1994.
REVIEWING OREGON STATE: Stanford moved the ball effectively early against the Beavers, especially on the ground, but could muster just first and second quarter field goals - not enough to stay on pace with the high-powered Oregon State offense. The Beavers used two big offensive plays - touchdown passes from 76 and 97 yards out - to pull away from Stanford in the second half en route to a 38-6 win. The Cardinal rushed for 148 yards, second most this season, with Kerry Carter and Brian Allen combining for 140 yards on 39 carries. OSU gained 471 yards on the day, including 324 through the air.
TURNOVER TALES: Stanford's turnover margin in 2000 has not been as successful as it was a year ago, when the Cardinal ranked second in the conference and tied for sixth in the nation with a +0.91 turnover margin. For the season, Stanford was +10 in turnovers. A year ago, Stanford took 30 turnovers and turned them into 87 points. Through six games in '00, the Cardinal has scored just three points off turnovers. In Stanford's two wins (Washington State, Texas), the Cardinal is +3 in turnovers while in its four losses, Stanford is a -9 in turnovers. In the last 18 games ('99, '00), Stanford is 7-1 when it wins the turnover battle, 2-6 when it loses and 1-1 when the turnovers are even.
TIGHT END PRODUCTION: Stanford's tight ends have already surpassed their 1999 season output and are on pace to become one of the most productive units in recent years. Through six games in '00, Cardinal tight ends have caught 17 passes for 226 yards, already better than last year's season totals of 12 receptions for 115 yards. This season, injuries have forced all four TE's to play a role in the Cardinal offense. Soph's Darrin Naatjes (6 rec., 65 yards) and Brett Pierce (6-37) have teammed with Sr. Russell Stewart (5-124) to give the Cardinal increased productivity.
YOUTH MOVEMENT: Stanford fields one of its youngest teams in recent years. Only seven players, including six starters, off the current two-deep chart are in their final season of eligibility.Of the 44 players listed on the team's regular two-deep chart, 19 players will return in 2001 for their final season of eligibility, 12 players have two years remaining (2001, '02), six have three years remaning after the 2000 season (2001, '02, '03) and seven will not return in 2001. Offensively, starting WR DeRonnie Pitts and TE Russell Stewart along with backup FB Emory Brock are the only three players currently in their final year of eligibility. On the defensive side of the ball, Stanford returns everyone with the exception of DT Willie Howard, DE Sam Benner, OLB Riall Johnson and SS Aaron Focht.
STARTING STREAKS: DT Willie Howard started his 40th consecutive game last Saturday at Oregon State and, barring injury, has a chance to start every game of college career if he remains in the starting lineup for the rest of the 2000 season. Howard has started every game since being inserted into the lineup to begin the 1997 season. Listed below are Stanford's longest current starting streaks:
|29 - DeRonnie Pitts, WR||40 - Willie Howard, ,DT|
|18 - Eric Heitmann, RG||18 - Riall Johnson, OLB|
|16 - Casey Moore, FB||8 - Ruben Carter, CB|
|13 - Greg Schindler, RT|
|12 - Brian Allen, RB|
|18 - Mike Biselli, PK|
DEFENSE BY THE NUMBERS: Stanford's defense has improved from a year ago in passing yards allowed per game, total yards allowed and points per game. The Cardinal is giving up 367.5 yards in total offense this season compared to 452.8 a year ago. Stanford is down in passing yards allowed as well, from 304.9 in 1999 to 218.7 in 2000. The Cardinal has also improved in points allowed per game, from 31.5 a year ago to 26.5 in 2000.
PENALTY BOX: Stanford once again leads the Pac-10 in fewest penalties. The Cardinal is tops in the league in fewest penalties (29), penalty yards (196) and penalty yards per game (32.7). Stanford has led the Pac-10 in fewest penalties and penalty yards per game in each of the last four seasons. A year ago, the Cardinal averaged 42.9 penalty yards per game (58 penalties, 472 penalty yards). Stanford,which was second in the league in 1995, also led the league in 1996 (59 penalties, 539 yards), '97 (66-596) and '98 (73-544).
NATIONAL ROSTER: Stanford's roster includes players from two countries and 28 states, making the Cardinal perhaps the most diverse team in college football. Stanford has players from Canada and every region in the U.S.. The Cardinal roster includes 24 players from California, seven from Pennsylvania, six each from Washington and Texas, four from Florida and Utah, three from Michigan, Ohio and Idaho, two from Mississippi, Nevada, Virginia and Missouri and one each from Arizona, Colordo, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
RIALL ADDS TWO MORE TO SACK TOTAL: For the second straight season, fifth-year senior OLB Riall Johnson is atop the Pacific-10 Conference leaders in sacks ... Johnson, who has started 28 of the last 29 games since 1998, recorded both Cardinal sacks on Saturday at Oregon State to give him a Pac-10 leading eight for the season, and putting him on pace to surpass the conference leading 13 he recorded a year ago ... Johnson has recorded at least one sack in five of the Cardinal's six games in 2000, and a tackle-for loss in all six contests ... In addition to the eight sacks for -52 yards, the Washington native ranks sixth in the conference with 10 tackles-for-loss for -68 yards ... He also has 26 total tackles, including 20 unassisted, and two passes defensed ... Johnson's best game of the 2000 campaign came in the Cardinal's home upset over then-No. 5 Texas, as he recorded three sacks (-19 yards) and four tackles-for-loss (-26 yards) to earn USATODAY.com Pacific-10 Conference Player of the Week honors ... It also marked the sixth time in Johnson's career that he has recorded two or more sacks in a game ... Last week against OSU, Johnson also recorded a team-high eight tackles ... For his career, Johnson has 29 sacks (-213 yards) and 42 tackles-for-loss (-258 yards) ... Johnson, who moved to outside linebacker from defensive end prior to the 1999 season, also had a banner year in '99 - tying for the 1999 Pac-10 lead in sacks with 13 (-108 yards) en route to second team all-conference honors ... The 13 sacks made Johnson just the fourth Cardinal since 1980 to record 10 or more sacks in a season (Kailee Wong 1996-97, Ron George 1990, '92, Rob Hinckley 1988) ... In that '99 campaign, he had the best game of his collegiate career with an amazing five sacks in a home victory over Washington State ... In the preseason, The Sporting News tabbed Johnson No. 7 on its list of the nation's top outside linebackers while Lindy's had him at No. 14. Johnson's younger brother, Teyo, who was one of the nation's prized recruits in both basketball and football, is a true freshman reserve quarterback for the Cardinal.
HOWARD NAMED ONE OF 12 LOMBARDI AWARD SEMIFINALISTS: Earlier this month, fifth-year senior DT Willie Howard was named as one of 12 semifinalists for the 2000 Rotary Lombardi Award, given annually to the nation's top lineman ... Howard, who was a 2000 Preseason First Team All-American selection by Athlon and Second Team Preseason All-American pick by Street & Smith's, won the 1999 Morris Award, emblematic of the top lineman in the Pacific-10 Conference ... Thus far this season, Howard, who has made 40 consecutive starts dating back to 1997, has 25 tackles (17 unassisted), five tackles for loss (-26 yards) and three quarterback sacks (-24 yards) ... He has recorded a tackle-for-loss in four of the six games this year, and 15 of his last 19 dating back to '98 ... All totaled, he has 36 career tackles-for-loss (-157 yards) and 20.5 career sacks (-124 yards) ... Last season, Howard emerged as the leader - both on and off the field - of Stanford's defensive line unit known as the 'Trench Dogs' ... by finishing third in the Pac-10 in both quarterback sacks (10, -60 yards) and tackles-for-loss (19, -79 yards) in '99 ... He recorded five tackles, including one for a loss, in the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin despite playing with ACL damage and an MCL sprain to his right knee that was suffered in the regular season finale against Notre Dame just five weeks earlier.
PITTS LEADS CARDINAL RECEIVING CORPS: Fifth-year senior WR DeRonnie Pitts has established himself as one of the top pass catchers in Stanford football history ... After recording 132 receptions as the Cardinal's No. 2 wideout the last two seasons behind 1999 Biletnikoff Award winner Troy Walters, Pitts hasn't missed a beat as the Cardinal's top pass catcher this season ... Thus far this year, Pitts has accounted for nearly 40 percent of the Cardinal's receptions - 38 of 101 - for team-highs of 453 yards and five touchdowns ... Two weeks ago at Notre Dame, Pitts caught eight passes for 100 yards and a touchdown, marking the second time this season and ninth in his career he has broken the 100-yard barrier in a single game ... He had a career-high 11 receptions for 130 yards and two touchdowns against San Jose State on Sept. 9 of this year, and had two more touchdowns a week later against Texas, including a dramatic game-winning 15-yard reception with 1:12 left in the contest ... Pitts is tied for 14th in the nation and second in the Pac-10 with 6.33 receptions per game and is third in the conference and 35th in the country in receiving yards per game with 75.50 ... Pitts is also third in the Pac-10 in total receiving yards (453) and eighth in the conference in all-purpose rushing (96.67 pg) ... Pitts, who will likely be second or third in every all-time school receiving category by the end of this season, had his breakout year in '98 with 74 receptions (tied for the third highest single season total in school history) for 1,012 yards and seven touchdowns ... Pitts' accomplishments have been well noticed, as he was ranked among the best receivers in the nation in the preseason by The Sporting News and Lindy's, and is on the 'watch list' for the Biletnikoff Award.
PITTS MOVES INTO SECOND ON SCHOOL RECEIVING YARDAGE LIST: Fifth-year senior WR DeRonnie Pitts moved up to second place on Stanford's all-time receiving yardage list on Saturday with a nine-yard reception near the end of the second quarter ... Pitts, who finished the day with 2,513 career receiving yards (not including bowl games), moved into second place ahead of former NFL receiver Justin Armour (2,482, 1991-94) ... Troy Walters - Pitts' former teammate and now a member of the Minnesota Vikings - holds the career receiving yardage record with 3,986 from 1996-99 ... On the Pac-10's career receiving yardage list, which includes bowl games, Pitts is 11th with 2,594, but stands just 202 yards away from breaking into the top five ... The Saginaw, Michigan native also ranks fourth in Stanford history (183, not including bowl games) and seventh on the all-time Pac-10 list (189, including bowl games) in career receptions.
LEWIS STEPS INTO STARTING ROLE: Redshirt freshman QB Chris Lewis, who is subbing for the injured Randy Fasani, has started the last three games to become the first redshirt freshman to start at QB for Stanford since St. Louis Cardinals' farmhand Chad Hutchinson did it in '96 ... When he received the starting nod against Arizona, he became the fourth player to start at quarterback for Stanford in an 11-game span (Todd Husak, Joe Borchard, Fasani, Lewis) ... Lewis, who came into the Texas game in the first quarter and led Stanford to the upset win, is 64-of-144 on the season for 824 yards with five touchdowns and five interceptions ... In the dramatic win over the Longhorns on Sept. 16, Lewis went 12-of-33 for 214 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions ... The last of those three touchdown passes was a game-winning 15-yard strike to DeRonnie Pitts with 1:12 remaining that capped a dramatic four-play, 59-yard drive ... Last week against Oregon State, Lewis went 18-of-33 for 185 yards with two interceptions ... Lewis, who starred at Long Beach Poly High School, came to The Farm after being named the 1998 Gatorade National High School Football Player of the Year and a Parade Magazine First Team Prep All-American ... As a senior, Lewis completed 59.4 (174-of-293) percent of his passes for 3,170 yards and 43 touchdowns ... He finished his prep career with a California state record 107 TD passes to go along with 8,616 yards through the air.
FASANI UNDERGOES KNEE SURGERY: Senior quarterback Randy Fasani (two years of eligibility remaining) underwent arthroscopic surgery on on Sept. 29 at Stanford Hospital to repair a strained ligament and torn cartilage in his left knee ... Fasani, who suffered the injury on Sept. 16 against Texas, has been medically cleared to play and is expected to participate in practie this week ... His status for Saturday's game against USC is still uncertain ... Fasani, who started the first three games of the season, was among the national leaders in virtually every passing category before the injury ... He is an impressive 37-of-71 (52.1 percent) for 664 yards with six touchdowns and just one interception to go along with a 155.74 pass efficiency rating ... Against San Jose State, Fasani threw for 373 yards - the 20th highest single game total in school history - and went 18-of-42 with four touchdowns and one interception ... Prior to this season, Fasani appeared in 13 games off the bench in '98 and '99, and went 9-of-22 for 94 yards with one touchdown and one interception in addition to also seeing time at tight end, on special teams and at linebacker ... He redshirted the '97 campaign, and then appeared in 10 games (mainly in goal line situations) in '98 ... He went 8-of-16 for 81 yards with an interception and a touchdown in those 10 games, and also rushed for three touchdowns to tie for the team lead in that category ... Fasani started the '99 season as the No. 3 quarterback behind Husak and Joe Borchard, but prior to game #7 at USC was switched to inside linebacker in order to get his athleticism on the field ... Prior to moving to linebacker, Fasani appeared in three games at QB in '99 and went 1-for-6 for 13 yards.