A second half surge was not enough as the Colorado Buffaloes (5-6, 2-6 Pac-12) fell to No. 15 USC 38-24 on Senior Day at Folsom Field on Saturday. The Buffs are now 0-12 all-time against the Trojans and still seeking to become bowl eligible with one game remaining.
Seemingly nonexistent in the first half, Steven Montez and the Buffaloes offense found their rhythm in the last 30 minutes. The sophomore signal caller finished with a career-high 376 passing yards and two touchdowns, but did have two costly interceptions. Wide receivers Juwann Winfree (5 rec, 163 yards, 2 TD) and Bryce Bobo (10 rec, 113 yards) combined for 276 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the first Buffaloes duo to have 100-plus receiving yards in the same game since 2013. Senior tailback Phillip Lindsay, the recipient of the Buffalo Heart Award following the game, rushed 20 times for 68 yards and a touchdown. The 486 total yards – 334 of which came in the second half - was the most a Colorado team has ever gained against the Trojans.
After averaging over 300 yards on the ground against Arizona State and Arizona, D.J. Eliot’s unit held Ronald Jones and USC to 193 rushing yards on 38 attempts. Colorado’s secondary was certainly tested while facing future first round NFL Draft pick Sam Darnold. Unpressured most of the day, the redshirt-sophomore completed 21-of-34 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore cornerback Dante Wigley – a junior-college transfer from Carrollton, GA - had perhaps his best game of the year, finishing with five solo tackles and three pass breakups.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C+
Lou Groza Award semifinalist James Stefanou had his first two field goal attempts blocked – the first two of his career - before connecting on a 39-yarder in the fourth quarter. The 30-year old CU freshman is now 17-of-21 on the season and has yet to miss an extra point attempt. Inside linebacker Nate Landman blocked a Reid Budrovich punt in the 3rd quarter which led to the Buffaloes second touchdown of the game.
The Buffaloes offensive line may have been outmatched against USC’s front seven, but why abandon your bread-and-butter? Would’ve liked to see Phillip Lindsay with more touches, especially in the first half. Could not understand some of the decision making on some fourth down calls as well. At 0-0 early in the second quarter Montez was sacked for a loss of three yards on a 4th-and-9, eventually leading to USC’s first touchdown. Why not punt in that situation? Maybe pin the Trojans deep, especially with the Buffaloes defense playing as well as they were early in the game. Down 20-0 early in the third quarter, the Buffs opted for a 39-yard field goal on 4th-and-3 from the Trojans 22-yard line. Stefanou’s attempt was blocked for the second time in the game. Didn’t agree with the decision there either. Down 20 and a facing a 4th-and-3 just outside the red zone, GO FOR IT!
Decent but still disappointing performance overall. We knew USC was going to put up points, but the Buffs just couldn’t match them in the first half. If Montez didn’t throw that pick-six at the end of the first half and the decision making on 4th down was different, this grade might be higher.
NEXT UP: November 25 at Utah (5-5, 2-5 Pac-12) – Network, Game Time TBD
The Buffaloes get a much-needed week off before taking on Utah the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Both teams are still seeking that elusive sixth win to become bowl eligible. Whereas the Buffs are on a bye week, Utah travels to Seattle this weekend to take on the Huskies.