Chalk one up for the Trojans. This Friday, the Trojans will travel to Colorado to face Pac-12 newcomers, the University of Colorado Buffs. These two squads have only faced each other six times, and unless the Buffs cut a deal with the devil in the next 24 hours, USC will easily walk away with the win. USC is, like, a bazillion points favored over the Buffs, so there is no point in even pretending this game is a legitimate match up. The Buffs haven’t won a single conference game yet in their inaugural season in the Pac-12, and the mighty Trojans are unlikely to give them one this week. Colorado is the worst in the conference essentially every meaningful stat category: scoring offense, rushing offense, red zone offense, scoring defense, rushing defense, pass deficiency defense, sacks against, opponent’s first downs, interceptions, and kickoff returns. In addition, they’ve lost their past four games by 41, 28, 43, and 34 points.
So yeah, this team is BAD. To call them bereft of talent would be like saying North Korea is a small foreign relations issue. Realistically, USC could record its first shutout since 2008 when they go up against the Buffs.
So instead of comparing these two teams—after all, there is no comparison—let’s look at the things that could prevent USC from keeping any and all points off the board.
First of all, it is going to be FREEZING in Boulder. And even if it isn’t literally freezing, it’s absolutely going to feel like it for the Trojans, hailing from it’s-always-sunny-in-Southern California. The forecast says, for now, that it will be around 39 degrees tomorrow night. The Trojans aren’t use to this kind of inclement weather—apparently 65 degrees doesn’t qualify as “inclement” to some people—and historically, they haven’t played particularly well in the cold. Sure, they’ve pulled off many a victory in places like South Bend, Oregon, and Washington, but it is much easier for those teams to come to LA and play well than it is the other way around. This is mostly mental issue though, so if USC can stay mentally ahead of the weather and think warm, pleasant thoughts, they shouldn’t be too thrown off by all that white stuff going on around them.
I hear it’s called snow, or something? Whatever that is.
Next, there’s the fact that all-star safety T.J. McDonald will be sitting out during the first half of play because of more NCAA treachery. McDonald has been a force in the backfield for the Trojans, and Drew McCallister will have big shoes to fill, as he will be starting the first half. Not only that, but Jawanza Starling has also been sidelined this week due to an unspecified injury, so it is likely that back-up free safety Marshall Jones will be starting in his place. It will be interesting to see how effective the Trojans’ secondary will be, with two more low-experience players on the field (for a total of three if you count Isiah Wiley who is still starting at cornerback in place of Anthony Brown).
Still on the defensive side of the ball, emerging star Dion Bailey suffered a concussion during the second overtime of SC’s game against Stanford, and as of practice on Wednesday, still had not been cleared to play this week. They’re taking it day to day, and it will probably be a game time decision whether or not he plays. If he doesn’t, freshman Tre Madden will start in his place. Madden is another talented, but young player for the Trojans. Fortunately, Chris Galippo and Hayes Pullard are both healthy and ready to go, so a lack of Bailey might not actually hurt the Trojans too much against the lowly Buffs.
Then there’s the fact that this team has never traveled to Colorado before. This is unfamiliar territory, and it undoubtedly will be hostile on principle. Even when we are “nationally irrelevant”, everyone still dreams on knocking off the big dogs of Troy. The team should not go into Boulder taking this team lightly; as we saw in last week’s game against Stanford, when the crowd serves as the 12th man for a team, it makes all the difference in the world for morale. If the people at the University of Colorado know anything about football(which they don’t, as they worship fullback Tim Tebow), they will pack this stadium, and they will try to bring the house down. This could serve as a mental block for USC, as this is only their third road test.
But even with all that, I just don’t see USC falling to Colorado. What I do see though, is Robert Woods getting another big boost to his stats for the season. Since Cal, Woods hasn’t had the electrifying performances that he did in the first half of the season, but that’s because Cal, Notre Dame, and certainly Stanford had good defenses. Colorado doesn’t. You can just imagine what Woods can do to that horrendous secondary.
USC is going to beat Colorado a whole lot to a whole little, and—I’m not gonna lie—it would be nice to see an old school, USC style beat down. Kickoff is set for 6 P.M. California time and will be on ESPN, ESPN3D (because who doesn’t want to see this beat down in 3D?!) and ESPN3. Tune in to watch USC make it’s way to being 7-2 for the season.