The unranked USC Trojans will square off against the No. 19 ranked Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday at the Coliseum. The game will serve as USC's 6th game overall and 3rd conference game. The Trojans are coming off a bye week, while the Buffaloes are fresh off a victory against the Arizona State Sun Devils.
Story so far
USC has had an up-and-down season to begin their 2018 campaign. After a strong showing against UNLV, the Trojans fell to Stanford and No. 9 ranked Texas in back-to-back weeks. The Trojans needed a comeback and some late game heroics to hold off Washington State at home and had another disappointing win on the road against Arizona.
Colorado has started their season undefeated, 5-0. The team opened up against Colorado State, and later took on Nebraska and New Hampshire. The Buffaloes are 2-0 in Pac-12 games with wins against UCLA and Arizona State. Their impressive start has given them the No. 19 ranking in the AP poll.
What happened last year
Last season the Trojans flew to Boulder to take on Colorado. Led by quarterback Sam Darnold, the team handily defeated the Buffaloes, 38-24. The win marked the clinching of the Pac-12 south and a trip to the championship game. USC would go on to win the Pac-12 title game against Stanford, before falling to Ohio State in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.
The Buffaloes have never beaten USC in 12 meetings. USC's largest win came in 2012 by a score of 50-6. Their smallest margin of victory came in 2000 by a score of 17-14. It is important to note that while Colorado has never beaten USC, the team did not become a Pac-12 member until 2011.
What they're saying
USC currently stands a 7-point favorite against the Buffaloes. This means that the Trojans are favored to win by at least a touchdown.
What we're saying
USC should have no trouble beating the Buffaloes. While Colorado is ranked, their ranking comes at a time when many teams are shifting up-and-down the polls.
Yes the team is undefeated, but their wins leave much to be desired. The team defeated Colorado State, Nebraska and New Hampshire. More so, the team soundly beat a winless UCLA and an Arizona State that has faltered in the weeks following their win against Michigan State.
3 Keys to victory
- Discipline: It goes without saying that a team should be disciplined on the field, but the Trojans have a knack for tallying up unnecessary penalties. Against Arizona, USC racked up 18 penalties for 169-yards on both sides of the ball. Some of these penalties occurred during dead ball situations. The team will need to limit the amount of flags thrown if they expect to come out on top.
- Offense: The Trojans will need a more consistent offense in order to hold down the Buffaloes. Against Arizona, the Trojans scored 24-points in their win. While 24-points is nothing to laugh at, the Trojans scored 17 of those points in the first half. A touchdown to open the second half completed their point total. For the ensuing two quarters, USC would trade the ball back-and-forth with the Wildcats. Luckily for USC, Arizona was unable to take advantage of multiple three-and-out drives.
- Defense: USC’s defense will need to limit explosive plays from quarterback Steven Montez and his slew of weapons. Colorado features a balanced offense that relies on both passing and running. Wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. is prone to explosive runs f0r massive gains. Against Arizona State, Shenault had two touchdowns and 127-yards receiving off of 13 receptions. Similarly, tailback Travon McMillian will also need to be limited in the backfield. In three consecutive games he totaled over 100-yards rushing with several scores.
What's at stake
- Clay Helton’s 18-0 Coliseum record will once again be on the line. Helton will look to keep his record in-tact during Trojan Family Weekend.
- The winner of this game will likely go on to win the Pac-12 South. USC is itching to head back to the Pac-12 championship game and potentially avenge their loss to Stanford. In order for that to happen, the Trojans must win against Colorado. The Buffalo currently stand at the top of the leaderboard with their perfect 2-0 conference record. A win would push USC to 3-1 in conference, with games against Utah, Arizona State, Oregon State and Cal remaining. USC cannot afford to go 2-2 in conference play.
USC wins 28-21