The No. 21 Colorado Buffaloes went into Los Angeles in search of the first ever win against the USC Trojans. Unfortunately, the Buffs fell short in the eleventh all-time meeting, losing a close 21-17 game.
Coach Mike MacIntyre’s game time decision to start redshirt freshman Steven Montez over Sefo Liufau might have been costly. Colorado’s offense got off to a rough start and was held scoreless by USC’s defense in the first half. Montez was briefly knocked out of the game in the second quarter and Liufau saw his first game action since being injured against Michigan. However, both quarterbacks couldn’t crack USC’s secondary and combined for just 91 yards through two quarters. CU fought hard after being down 14 points at halftime.
Montez started the second half, but wouldn’t be the quarterback to spark a Buffs comeback.
Wide receiver Bryce Bobo found running back Phillip Lindsay for a touchdown on the Buffs’ first offensive possession out of the locker room. The 67-yard trick pass play put CU down by a score 14-7 with 11:23 left in the third quarter. The first career touchdown pass for Bobo would get the Buffs headed in the right direction.
USC surrendered turnovers on three consecutive possessions, but Colorado couldn’t convert the opportunities into enough points. A 10-yard strike from Montez to Bobo tied the game at 14 all with 10:20 left in the fourth quarter and CU was in a new ballgame.
Despite the struggles for the Buffs offense, the defense kept CU in a statistically lopsided game, forcing five USC turnovers and applying more pressure on quarterback Sam Darnold. However, after the Buffaloes tying score, Darnold drove his team down the field on the next possession with a 6 play, 70-yard drive, that included a 46-yard pass to Darreus Rogers. The floating pass from Darnold looked like an interception from CU defensive back Ahkello Witherspoon, but Rogers showed his strength in muscling the ball away.
A defensive battle ensued even with the only other points being a 42-yard Davis Price field goal, reducing USC’s lead to four with 4:49 left to go in the game.
The play call from MacIntyre not to go for a first down on 4th down with 4:52 left was questionable. CU’s defense held USC for most of the second half and would have to come up with one more stop.
The Trojans ground out yards and Montez wouldn’t get the ball back, with Darnold eventually running out the clock for the victory.
In the loss, Colorado’s defense managed to extend the nation’s longest opponent turnover streak to 19 games with Darnold’s fumble recovered by Witherspoon at the goal line in the first quarter. With this game, CU’s defense has forced multiple turnovers against opponents in three games this season.
Colorado drops to 4-2 on the season and 2-1 in Pac-12 play. The Buffs return home next Saturday to host Arizona State. CU’s offense will have time to adjust with the Sun Devils, who currently have one of the worst defenses in the nation.