The USC Trojans will head on the road to battle the Colorado Buffaloes in a PAC-12 showdown Friday night from Folsom Field. The USC Trojans enter this one with confidence after snapping a two-game slide with a dominating 41-14 home win against Arizona last week. They own a 3-1 PAC-12 record along with Utah atop the PAC-12 South. The Trojans’ lone conference loss came against Utah. USC is dealing with several injuries. Their rushing leader Vavae Malepeai is out with a knee injury. The Trojans remain out of the AP Top 25 rankings, and they could slide back in with a win in this one. UCS stands at 0-3 on the road.
The Colorado Buffaloes' tough PAC-12 schedule resumes against another strong opponent. The Buffaloes are having a difficult time navigating their conference schedule, compiling a 1-3 record through four games. They have dropped three straight games which involved a rough 41-10 road loss to Washington State last week. Colorado is struggling in both ends of the field, and they hold a 2-2 home record.
USC Ends Slide with Dominating Home Win
The USC Trojans play three of their next four games on the road starting with this one. USC will be looking to win consecutive games for the first time since they opened the season with two wins. The Trojans rebounded from a loss to Notre Dame by pouring on the points in a 41-14 home win against Arizona last week in a game that had USC labeled as 10.5 point favorites. Kedon Slovis was sharp in the victory, connecting on 19 of 28 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns. The freshman QB owns a 4:0 TD to INT ratio in his last two games, and he has 1219 passing yards with a 9:4 TD to INT ratio on the year. USC’s #1 QB JT Daniels was injured in week one with a torn ACL which resulted in a tough season-ending injury.
The Trojans were leaning on Markese Stepp on the ground due to the injury to leading rusher Vavae Malepeai. However, Stepp is now injured and won’t play this week. This opens the door for freshman RB Kenan Christon who collected 103 rushing yards on eight attempts in his only action of the season last week.
“Obviously he’s fast and special with the ball, but what I didn’t know coming in was how physical he’d be and how tough he’d be and if he wanted to run between those tackles,” Harrell said. “Getting as many reps as he has inside this year, he’s shown that a lot, and that’s been good to see. And then he’s also a kid that has shown to be physical in pass protection.”
-USC offensive coordinator on Graham Harrell on Christon.
USC features a deep receiving group led by Michael Pittman Jr. who should find plenty of open field against a weak Colorado secondary. Pittman Jr. tallied 232 receiving yards against Utah earlier this season, and the senior WR is up to 599 receiving yards on the year. The USC offense needs to take advantage of a poor Colorado offense this week.
The Trojans' defense has been hit with several key injuries. They are missing three of their starting cornerbacks, and safety Talanoa Hufanga is also injured. USC squandered 30 points to Notre Dame but bounced back by holding Arizona to 14 points. USC’s rush defense has been a problem this season, but fortunately for them, the Buffaloes haven’t done a whole lot on the ground. The Trojans are currently averaging 30.7 points, ranking them 55th overall. They are conceding an average of 24 points, positioning them 51st overall.
Some good news on the injury front for the Trojans as defensive backs Olaijah Griffin (back), Greg Johnson (shoulder) and Isaac Taylor-Stuard (ankle) are all expected to suit up against Colorado on Friday, according to Helton on Wednesday. However, freshman defensive back Chris Steele (knee sprain) was injured in practice on Tuesday and is considered quesitonable.
Colorado Routed Again in Third Straight Loss
The Colorado Buffaloes have plummeted to the bottom of the PAC-12 South standings after losing each of their last three games. They do not have the firepower or the defense to compete with the deep PAC-12 this season. The Buffaloes were routed 41-10 at Washington State in their previous game in a matchup that had them labeled as 13.5 point dogs. Steven Montez is struggling in a big way, tossing six interceptions over his last two games. The senior QB has tallied 1723 passing yards with a 10:8 TD to INT ratio on the season.
Colorado’s top rusher Alex Fontenot is coming off one of his best performances of the season, racking up 105 rushing yards on 11 attempts against Washington State last week. The sophomore RB has recorded over 100 rushing yards twice this year, and he has notched 568 rushing yards on the season.
Tony Brown has cooled off, posting only 38 receiving yards over his last two games. The senior WR has made 37 catches for a team-leading 480 receiving yards. The Buffaloes offense is in shambles, scoring only a combined 13 points in their last two games.
The Colorado defense is also vulnerable right now. They have squandered over 40 points in two straight games. The Buffaloes pass defense is especially scuffling, and they are up against a strong USC passing game. Colorado is currently averaging 26.6 points, ranking them 83rd in the country. They are conceding an average of 34.9 points, positioning them 116 overall.
The USC Trojans are:
- 9-4-1 ATS in their last 14 games after accumulating more than 200 rushing yards in their previous game.
The Colorado Buffaloes are:
- 1-8 ATS in their last 9 conference games.
- 1-4 ATS in their last five games overall.
- 0-6 ATS in their last 6 home games against a team with a winning road record.