Redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold eludes pressure during USC’s Week 2 matchup against Stanford. Photo by Katie Chin | Daily TrojanOn Monday, No. 11 USC began a short week of practice in anticipation of facing Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship, while offensive coordinator Tee Martin addressed his head coaching candidacy. This week’s conference championship game doubles as a rematch of the teams’ regular season contest and their 2015 Pac-12 Championship matchup. Rumors swirl When Tennessee fired head coach Butch Jones two weeks ago, USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin became a natural contender to fill the vacancy. He is a young coaching prospect with proven success since taking over play-calling duties in 2016 (the Trojans were second in the Pac-12 this year in total offense, with 488.6 yards per game). He also quarterbacked Tennessee to a national championship as Peyton Manning’s successor in 1998. With the Volunteers hiring and then un-hiring Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano amid student protests on Sunday, Martin’s name is once again coming up as a potential option. “I think he’d make a great head coach if he decides to go that route,” redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold said. “I think Tee is an awesome guy, so any time you get a great guy with that kind of offensive mindset, he’s going to make for a great head coach one day. We’ll see what happens.” On Monday, Martin stayed quiet about potentially filling his alma mater’s coaching vacancy. “I just don’t talk about other jobs during the season,” Martin said. “I’m going to focus on Stanford, and it’s something that will be talked about after the season.”He added that he has not been interviewed by Tennessee.Rumors also circulated regarding Darnold’s NFL future: The quarterback refuted rumors that he would return to school if the Cleveland Browns earned the No. 1 draft pick.“I didn’t say anything about the Browns,” Darnold said. “I’ve never said anything bad about [an NFL] team. They know I would never say anything.”Stanford’s improvements In Week 2 of the college football season, USC steamrolled Stanford for a 42-24 victory, while amassing over 600 yards of total offense. It still stands out as one of the Trojans’ most impressive performances of 2017. Since a challenging 1-2 start, Stanford has won eight of its last nine games, including victories over two top-10 teams. The Cardinal enter the Pac-12 Championship with loads of momentum after handling No. 8 Notre Dame this past weekend.“I think right now, when you look at it, I think they’re stopping the run very well in the last seven games,” head coach Clay Helton said. “A little bit of it is schematically, they’ve made some schematic changes on their defense. But I think overall they’ve gotten better and that’s usually what [Stanford head coach] David [Shaw’s] team does as they go from game one to game 12.”In their 38-20 victory over the Fighting Irish, the Cardinal stifled the dynamic duo of quarterback Brandon Wimbush and running back Josh Adams for 111 combined rushing yards. Notre Dame ran wild for 377 rushing yards against USC in its 49-14 win in October. “We beat Stanford by double digits, Notre Dame beat us by double digits, so when you look at that it’s pretty interesting,” Darnold said. “But we played Stanford early on in the season and Notre Dame was a while back too so I think it’s just two really good teams going at it on Friday.” Injury NotesUSC held both junior defensive lineman Rasheem Green and junior tight end Tyler Petite out of practice with shoulder injuries, with Helton citing both as day-to-day. He also announced that junior outside linebacker Porter Gustin was unlikely to play until a bowl game. Gustin has grappled with a broken toe for most of this season.
On a roll with four consecutive victories, two-time champions Mumbai Indians would look to continue the winning streak when they take on Kings XI Punjab in an Indian Premier League match, here on Thursday.WATCH: How WAGS inspired their cricket star husbands in IPL 2017Having won four out of the five matches they played so far, Mumbai Indians are placed second with eight points and would certainly start as favourites against Kings XI Punjab, who have managed to win just two of their five games.Even though Mumbai’s top order is yet to click, the middle and lower order have more than made up for the poor starts.Skipper Rohit Sharma, who did not have an ideal start to the tournament, made a strong comeback in the previous match against Gujarat Lions with an unbeaten 40 off 29 deliveries, while Kieron Pollard continued with his fine run, scoring a quickfire 23-ball 39.Young Nitish Rana has been a consistent contributer for Mumbai this season. He chipped in with a brilliant half- century in the last match to enable Mumbai toppled Gujarat Lions by six wickets.In fact, one of the biggest positives for Mumbai has been the form of the Pandya brothers — Hardik and Krunal. The duo have come up with significant all-round performances.Come tomorrow, Mumbai would look to their batsmen to shine again and dominate the opponents.Harbhajan Singh has been fantastic in the powerplay overs, while Lasith Malinga and Mitchell McClenaghan have also been among wickets. McClenaghan returned with impressive figures of two for 24 to help the team restrict Gujarat to 176 for four in their last game.advertisementKings XI Punjab, on the other hand, will have their task cut out against a strong Mumbai outfit.Despite starting their campaign with back-to-back victories, Kings XI slipped in the next three games and would now be desperate to get back to winning ways.Kings XI have some dangerous batsmen, especially the three ‘Ms’ — skipper Glenn Maxwell, David Miller and Eoin Morgan — besides Hashim Amla who can pile up runs but none of them clicked in the last three outings.The lone battle was fought by Manan Vohra in the last match against Sunrisers Hyderabad, as he scored a fabulous 50 -ball 90 but Kings XI still lost by five runs while chasing a modest 160-run target due to lack of support from the other end.Kings XI would desperately want the big names to stand up and make their presence felt against Mumbai tomorrow.Their bowling unit, which includes a reliable Mohit Sharma, experienced Ishant Sharma and talented Axar Patel, needs to fire in unison.Teams (From):Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (capt), Parthiv Patel, Tim Southee, Kieron Pollard, Jos Buttler, Ambati Rayudu, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nitish Rana, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Johnson, Lendl Simmons, Vinay Kumar, Saurabh Tiwary, Karn Sharma, Krishnappa Gowtham, Siddhesh Lad, Nicholas Pooran, Shreyas Gopal, Jitesh Sharma, Deepak Punia, Jagadeesha Suchith, Kulwant Khejroliya.Kings XI Punjab: Glenn Maxwell (capt), David Miller, Manan Vohra, Hashim Amla, Shaun Marsh, Armaan Jaffer, Martin Guptill, Eoin Morgan, Rinku Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Arman Jaffer, Anureet Singh, Mohit Sharma, KC Cariappa, Pradeep Sahu, Swapnil Singh, T Natrajan, Matt Henry, Varun Aaron, Axar Patel, Marcus Stoinis, Gurkeerat Mann, Rahul Tewatia, Darren Sammy, Wriddhiman Saha, Nikhil Naik, Ishant Sharma.