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Maualuga and USC defense should handle Stanford running game

Toby Gerhart and the Stanford running game face a tough challenge against USC. Kyle Terada/US PRESSWIRE

Can't-miss individual matchup
Stanford RB's Anthony Kimble and Toby Gerhart vs. USC MLB Rey Maualuga
Kimble and Gerhart have combined for 1,582 yards and 18 scores on 273 carries behind a solid offensive line this season. Kimble has had some injuries but he's an elusive back with adequate size and good quickness. Gerhart has also battled injuries but is expected to play despite injuring his hamstring against Oregon. When healthy, Gerhart is an underrated talent with a good combination of power and speed. Assuming he's even remotely effective, Stanford will attempt to grind out yards on the ground against Maualuga and USC's swarming defensive front.

Maualuga has a much stronger supporting cast in this matchup, which is why he should get the better of Stanford's one-two punch at running back. However, I will be watching to see how quickly Maualuga diagnoses the play and how he performs at the point of attack. Maualuga's senior season has been a bit disappointing thus far. With only four games remaining (three regular-season and a bowl) in his collegiate career it's time for Maualuga to prove he's worthy of a high first-round grade.