Many thought USC would use this home game against Colorado to flex their muscles, and in just a minute of play, the Trojans are proving to do just that.
USC elected to start the game on offense, and quickly Barkley and the passing game got to work. Barkley hit WR Robert Woods on the first play from scrimmage for an 11-yard pass, the first of four passes Woods needs to set the USC record for career catches. Barkley followed that up with a 55-yard shot to Marqise Lee, who then danced around defenders to reach the endzone and give the Trojans an early lead.
Two plays. Two passes. 50 seconds off the clock. Where has this offense been all season?
Colorado was moving the ball well in their first possession, showing that they might put up a fight against SC. But then Lamar Dawson enveloped Jordan Woods with pressure and forced him to throw a pick in the endzone to USC S Drew McCallister. USC scored it’s second touchdown on the following drive, when Barkley connected with Woods for a 39-yard touchdown pass.
Interestingly, the Trojans went for two after the score and got it, but then the play was called back due to a holding penalty. K Andre Heidari took the field for the extra point, and he shanked it just wide of the uprights.
To make matters worse for Colorado, they fumbled on their next drive and S McCallister recovered it. Barkley, playing with a fierceness we haven’t seen from him in a while, hit TE Xavier Grimble from eight yards out for another Trojan touchdown. USC went for two again and didn’t get it, but their lead extended to 19-0 with lots of time left in the quarter.
By connecting with Grimble, Barkley tied Matt Leinart’s USC and Pac-12 record for career touchdowns, with 99.
USC has dominated control of this game, but Colorado isn’t playing as if they have already been defeated. Jordan Webb has moved the ball on the Trojan defense and has converted on third down every time they have been tasked with doing so. They almost struck gold when Webb hit freshman Gerald Thomas in the left corner of the endzone. CB Josh Shaw was on the coverage, yet he did not even turn around when the pass was heaved. For a moment, Colorado looked to have exploited a vulnerability, but the ruling was overturned and changed to an incomplete pass.
They did come away with points though, when Buffs K Will Oliver hit a 27-yard field goal.
With two minutes left in the quarter, USC got back to its pursuit of record breaking, but got derailed by a huge rush from Colorado, forcing a Barkley fumble. However, the play looked to possibly be a forward pass and so it was reviewed. The play stood, and Colorado took over on downs.
The Trojans momentum has been tempered a bit, but they are still controlling this game. If they can continue to play with such a fierce tenacity, they will keep Colorado mentally out of this game, and it will be over early for the Buffs.