Stanford finds old voodoo and trips title-chasing USC … again.

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Take the pins out of the USC voodoo doll and pack them away until next year. The thing’s been missing for two years, so don’t put them any place you can’t find them when needed.

From 2007 through 2012, mighty Southern Cal and its annual championship (the national kind) expectations defeated Stanford only once.

Normally, unranked Stanford defeating top-10 USC and all of its aspirations would be overwhelmingly shocking. In this rivalry, it seems to be par for the course. It was eight years ago that Stanford pulled one of the most remarkable upsets in the history of college football as a 41-point underdog in defeating USC in Los Angeles.

In 2015, the 41-31 shocker was up there, but on a sliding scale, not quite at the top.

College football is your favorite college girlfriend, intoxicating and impossible to stay away from, but completely unpredictable and maddening all at once. The only time it’s consistent is when it’s sleeping, and even then, it steals the covers.

Folks were finally starting to take notice of USC, with a roster fully loaded and recovered from idiotic NCAA sanctions and a quarterback who kept being dealt pocket Kings, it seemed. The Trojans punted only for the sake of making sure the punter got some game action, and this was finally the year everything would come together just like every other year we thought the same thing.

Stanford didn’t appear to be a willing foil thus far, limping to only 6 points in a gruesome season-opening loss to Northwestern.

This was old USC and Stanford, though after a two-year gap in which the Trojans seemed to have found the doll and buried it in the sand.

USC’s offensive line struggled to give all-world quarterback Cody Kessler enough time to make his electric wide receivers a factor. There were a total of five punts the entire game. Yet, 31 points seems like it should have been enough, even with only 10 of those coming in the second half.

Kessler’s counterpart, Kevin Hogan of Stanford, was efficient in the way the Cardinal have been expecting this season… and for three years since he became a name to watch. If there is one thing that stands out about this game, it’s that the Cardinal converted 66 percent of their third downs while the Trojans were only able to convert 40 percent of theirs.

The criticism for Steve Sarkisian will only ramp up to a near fever pitch from here on out, as weighty championship aspirations have again been crushed far earlier than expected. No matter the coach (later Pete Carroll, Lane Kiffin, Sarkisian), something seems to trip up the talented Trojans year in and year out.

Stanford isn’t always the villain, but the Cardinals were again Saturday night, an old role being resurrected because it seemed like it would catch everyone off guard.

It certainly did. It’s becoming all too familiar these days for USC fans, inexplicably buried in the trenches by an underdog foe.

Inexplicably absent at the end when it all matters.

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