STANFORD -- Linebacker Shayne Skov is one of the most thoughtful and entertaining characters on Stanford's football team.

But Tuesday he did his best to downplay a remark from teammate Kevin Danser ahead of No. 5 Stanford's showdown this weekend at USC.

"We want to be the kings of California and sweep out all the other California teams," said Danser, a fifth-year senior center.

To which Skov replied a little later: "Got to be careful with bulletin board material with that one. We want to be the best team in the Pac-12, and part of that means being the best team in the state. We take pride in dominance of the state. I'm not saying we do, but at the end of the season, if we do, we take pride in that. I'm just clarifying it."

Skov's reaction underscores the lengths Stanford (8-1, 6-1, Pac-12) goes in perpetuating a business-like image.

After dispatching then-No. 2 Oregon last week, the Cardinal players know they have another big one at 5 p. m. Saturday in the L.A. Coliseum.

"It's something we've always we circled in the past to show America who the team we are," Danser said of playing the Trojans. "SC has always been one of the top-tier teams."

But it's Stanford, and not USC (7-3, 4-2), that has been the state's most dominant school in recent seasons. Last year, the Cardinal swept its in-state conference rivals Cal, UCLA and USC for the third consecutive season. Stanford also defeated San Jose State and Sacramento State during the stretch.

Also, the Cardinal has won 31 of its past 32 games played in the Golden State, the one exception being a 53-30 loss to Oregon two seasons ago.

  • Stanford's defense welcomed the return of senior defensive end Henry Anderson, who played against Oregon after missing six games because of a leg injury.

    Anderson said he felt fine afterward. The Georgian even showed some personality after celebrating a sack.

    "He's as bland as a Saltine cracker post-play," Skov said. "We were waiting for something from him and he delivered."

  • Stanford coach David Shaw doesn't expect to rely as much on the power running game Saturday as the team did against Oregon, when Tyler Gaffney rushed 45 times for 157 yards.

    "We'll take it easy on him to a certain degree," Shaw said of his primary running back. "That was something completely unintentional to start the game."

    It took Gaffney 48 hours to recover from the bruising performance.

    Shaw and his staff kept calling run plays because it worked against the Ducks. But the game Saturday features the Pac-12's two best rush defenses, with USC second to Stanford in yards allowed.

    "We'll have to be more diverse than we were a week ago," Shaw said.

    Danser, however, embraces run blocking.

    "You do need passes in there now and then," he conceded. But Danser wishes the Cardinal "could just run it down their throats."

    Why?

    "You can impose your will on someone else," he said. "Just be brutal on other teams and beat the (heck) out of them."

  • Stanford enters the final stretch of the regular season with a healthy team.

    Wide receiver Devon Cajuste successfully returned against Oregon after injuring his right leg last month.

    Kicker Jordan Williamson also survived the game last week after suffering an undisclosed leg injury in October. Williamson made three of four field goals against Oregon with one blocked in the fourth quarter.

    But Shaw said it is doubtful the Texan will handle kickoffs until the postseason.

    Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.

    saturday's game
    Stanford (8-1, 6-1 Pac-12) at USC (7-3, 4-2), 5 p.m. ABC