Another week for Colorado, another Top 25 opponent on the schedule.
The Buffs (1-8) will have likely faced the Pac-12 champion over this two week period. They lost 49-10 to No. 6 Oregon last week and square off with 8th-ranked USC this week. It’s a rough back-to-back for CU who’s struggling to get by under normal circumstances. If it’s any consolation for the Buffs, the Trojans are one of the only other FBS teams to allow over 400 yards per game. So, you’re saying there’s a chance? Not exactly.
For what the Trojans (8-1) have given up on defense they’ve certainly matched with an offensive attack ranked in the top ten, averaging 41 points per game. Lincoln Riley’s transition to Southern California couldn’t have been better scripted. The former Oklahoma coach brought his QB with him, and the two are vibing at the right time.
Caleb Williams has thrown for 2,742 yards, along with 28 TDs to a single interception, which matches Coastal Carolina’s Grayson McCall’s and LSU’s Jayden Daniels respective totals in FBS. Williams has been a force to be reckoned with at USC and hasn’t been sacked in the past two games. In fact, he’s the only passer to throw for over 300 yards, have at least four touchdowns, and not be taken down to the ground during that time.
Williams comes with weapons and one of them is a familiar face for the Buffs. Brenden Rice, made the jump from Boulder to LA in the offseason after two seasons for the Buffs. The son of Hall of Famer Jerry Rice hasn’t had a “breakout” year for USC, but he has contributed behind three of the most electric receivers in the game today.
Jordan Addison leads the Trojans with 585 yards and seven touchdowns. The future first round pick is special and has become Williams’ go-to option. However, USC might be without Addison who’s dealing with a leg injury. Riley told reporters earlier this week he’s hopeful to have his star wideout back and he is currently listed as probable.
While Addison has been targeted more, he isn’t the only playmaker with strong numbers. Mario Williams averages 19.0 yards per grab to go along with 493 yards and 4 TDs this season. He’s one of seven USC receivers with double-digit averages in both receptions and average yards this season. Addison and Tahj Washington are the most experienced of the bunch with averages nearly identical, except Washington has only three touchdowns.
It’s rare to have a deep receiving corps and a proven running back, but Travis Dye has gotten the job done for the Trojans out of the backfield. The Pac-12’s second-leading rusher is on the verge of a second consecutive 1,000-yard season after coming over from Oregon. Dye is responsible for 1,052 yard from scrimmage to go with nine touchdowns. Look for the senior to be busy as he rides an eight-game touchdown streak coming into this week.
Colorado’s offense has improved since Karl Dorrel’s exit. The Buffs were averaging 13.4 points per game before Mike Sanford took over as head coach and they’ve put up an average of 18.2 points in the past four games. Not huge on paper, but enough to see progress from the low point they were at before the win over Cal.
J.T. Shrout will be without his best receiver from here on out. Not only did CU come out on the losing end against Oregon, but they lost Jordyn Tyson to a season-ending leg injury in the process. The Allen, Texas freshman was averaging 21.4 yards per catch and had four touchdowns this season.
The key for CU will be holding off Tuli Tuipulotu, who currently leads the Pac-12 with nine sacks (2nd, FBS). He’s a major reason why USC’s defense is in the middle of the pack, but mostly becasue they’ve rarely played from behind this season.
Colorado goes back to Cali to face USC. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. MT from the LA Coliseum on Friday, Nov. 11. The Buffs have never beat the Trojans in fifteen previous tries going back to 1927. This is likely one of the final meetings for both schools as USC takes off for the Big Ten next year. A doozy of a final month for CU with every opponent ranked in the Top 25.
A salute to all the men and women of the US Military this Veterans Day. As always, thank you to those who’ve served including my father, Ron Hauser.
TV: FS1 (National)
Radio: 850 KOA (Mark Johnson and Gary Barnett)
Weather forecast: 59°, partly cloudy
Odds: -34.5, USC