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Five Storylines: USC

9/12/2012

Each week we will take a look at five important storylines heading into Saturday's game. Here are some things to watch for as the Trojans travel to the Bay Area to take on the Stanford Cardinal.

1) Revenge factor: The USC players and coaches will say there is not a revenge factor for this game, that it’s just another opponent on the schedule. They are probably pretty genuine when they say it too, but at some point this is a Stanford team that has beaten USC three times in a row. The seniors on this team -- guys such as Matt Barkley and T.J. McDonald -- have never beaten the Cardinal. Then there is the triple-overtime game from last year. Lots of reasons for the Trojans to get maybe just a little bit more up for this one.

2) When will the Trojans click: Yes, the Trojans are 2-0 but they have yet to really look crisp for an entire game. It says something when you win your opening two games by decent margins and fall in the coaches poll after each game. It’s not necessarily about style points -- it’s about this team wanting to go out and prove that they can put it all together.

3) Replacing Holmes: USC center Khaled Holmes left the game against Syracuse in the fourth quarter with an undisclosed injury and it’s unclear if he will be available against Stanford. If Holmes cannot go, the Trojans lose the veteran presence in the middle of their offensive line. There are some good backup options, but guys like Holmes are hard to replace for a reason.

4) Status of injured defensive starters: There were three projected defensive starters that played against Syracuse who had missed the opener against Hawaii; Wes Horton (DE), Lamar Dawson (MLB) and Torin Harris (CB). Due to his new policy of limiting information on injuries, Lane Kiffin has not said if they will play against Stanford. Any of the three they can get to play would be huge against a physical Cardinal team intent on running the football.

5) Cornerback spot opposite Robey: For the second week in a row, the opponent targeted the spot opposite Nickell Robey with good success. Kiffin is hopeful that Harris can add some experience to the mix as he gets adjusted to being back on the field. This will be perhaps the biggest test to see how much of a difference there is between Andrew Luck and Josh Nunes, because Luck would have likely thrown at that spot a lot.