A promising season for No. 6 USC, with a senior Heisman Trophy candidate in quarterback Cody Kessler, absorbed a severe blow Saturday with a home loss to Stanford, 41-31.
Quarterback Kevin Hogan completed 18 of 23 passes for 279 yards and a pair of scores, finding one of the top tight ends in the nation, Austin Hooper, for 79 yards and a touchdown. Christian McCaffrey carried 26 times for 115 yards as the Cardinal had its top offensive performance against the most talented defense it has seen to date.
USC had opened the season 2-0, while Stanford (2-1) had lost a season opener to Northwestern, 16-6.
Kessler, for his part, was on target. The Trojans veteran completed 25 of 32 passes for three touchdowns and no interceptions. He wasn't the only star who showed up for the Trojans on a night when stars weren't enough. Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster caught eight passes for 153 yards.