Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre and USC defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast have something in common. They were each assistants under former Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator and current Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. Saturday, Pendergast's defense got the best of MacIntyre's Buffaloes.
After outscoring opponents 85-17 in the 1st quarter and 164-47 in the 1st half this season, the Buffs were held scoreless through the first 30 minutes at the Coliseum. Colorado did rally to tie the game at 14-14 early in the 4th quarter, but the Trojans quickly answered with a 6-play, 70-yard drive for what proved to be the winning touchdown. With the loss Colorado fell to 0-11 all-time vs USC.
MOST VALUABLE BUFF: BRYCE BOBO, WIDE RECEIVER
The junior wide receiver from Covina, California was one of the bright spots for Colorado's offense, which managed just 371 yards vs USC (entering Saturday the Buffaloes ranked 9th in the FBS averaging 531 yards per game). Bobo finished with a career-high 10 receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown vs USC. He also completed a beautiful 67-yard pass to Phillip Lindsay on a trick play in the 3rd quarter which resulted in Colorado's first score of the game.
Colorado Buffaloes (@cubuffs) October 8, 2016
MOMENT OF THE GAME: AHKELLO WITHERSPOON'S NEAR INTERCEPTION
Two weeks ago Ahkello Witherspoon intercepted a Dakota Prukop pass in the end zone to cap off a 41-38 win over Oregon. The senior defensive back nearly came up with another big play Saturday vs USC. On the 2nd play following Colorado's game-tying touchdown in the 4th quarter, USC quarterback Sam Darnold heaved a wobbly pass up for Darreus Rogers.
"When the kid threw it," MacIntyre said. "I thought, `I'm glad he threw it. I think we got us another pick.' And then all of a sudden, what a great play."
The coverage was perfect, but Rogers somehow snatched the pass away from Witherspoon and rumbled down the field.
"...someone needed to step up and to make that play and take it away from them totally energized us, might have won that game just with that play", USC head coach Clay Helton said.
What could have been Colorado's 5th takeaway on the day, in a crucial moment of the game, resulted in a 46-yard gain for the Trojans. Minutes later Darnold connected with tight end Tyler Petite for his 2nd touchdown giving USC a 21-14 lead they would not relinquish.
BIGGEST QUESTION: HOW WILL THE BUFFS REBOUND?
"Today was just a testament to how much work we have left," Colorado quarterback Steven Montez said. "It's a humbling experience to show that we weren't what we thought we are, and have so much work to do."
There's no denying it, this loss stings. There's also no denying that this is a different Colorado team than we've seen the last few years. So how will these Buffs rebound from this tough loss? Midway through the season Colorado is 4-2 overall and 2-1 in conference play, tied atop the Pac-12 South standings with Arizona State and Utah. The question of ‘How will the Buffs rebound' will be answered next week as they host Arizona State.
"A loss is a loss. It's frustrating either way. We have a lot more at stake right now, we all know that" said Colorado junior inside linebacker Addison Gilliam.
NEXT UP: OCTOBER 15 vs ARIZONA STATE (5-1, 2-1), 6:00PM MT, PAC-12 NETWORK
Its homecoming week in Boulder and for the second straight week Colorado will attempt to defeat a team they never have. The Buffs are 0-7 all-time vs Arizona State, 0-5 since joining the Pac-12. The Sun Devils are coming off an impressive 23-20 win over UCLA in Tempe.
It'll be interesting to see who starts at quarterback for the Sun Devils. With starter Manny Wilkens sidelined with crutches after sustaining an injury at USC, freshman Brady White got the start vs UCLA Saturday. Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, White had to leave the game on crutches late in the 4th quarter and was replaced by third stringer Dillon Stering-Cole. "Hopefully, we'll get good news on Brady, but it doesn't look good," Arizona State coach Todd Graham said.
Regardless of whom the Sun Devils start, if the Buffs defense can put pressure on Arizona State's signal caller and contain running back Demario Richard, Colorado fans should be celebrating another 1st for this Buffaloes program.