Gameday Preview: Colorado at USC


Original photographs by Kirby Lee (US PRESSWIRE) and Jeremy Papasso(Daily Camera). Photoshopped by Michael Castillo, Reign Of Troy.

Colorado Buffaloes at USC Trojans

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum | Los Angeles, California3:00 PM Pacific | Pac-12 NetworksAll-time Series: USC 6-0Last meeting: USC 42, Colorado 17 in 2011

When the two teams take the field today at the Coliseum, many will think that the Trojans should waltz to a big victory, given Colorado’s recent downward spiral the last couple of seasons. The Trojans opened up as 40-point favorites, but SC knows all too well that 40-point dogs can still pack a bite on a occasion, as evident with Stanford’s miracle upset back in 2007. But Colorado could be exactly what the doctor ordered for USC offensively, as the Trojans come into the game looking for an offensive identity, and a Colorado is near the bottom nationally in nearly every defensive category. If the Buffs want to replicate Stanford’s upset, they’ll have to control the line of scrimmage and tame the Trojans’ pass rush while moving the ball offensively with a offense ranked 105th in the nation. It’s a tall task, and it could be a tale of two teams this afternoon.

Gameday links

When Colorado has the ball…

Colorado’s leading rusher Christian Powell is probable despite suffering a thigh injury against UCLA back on September 29th and has yet to play since. Powell, a true freshman, has 294 yards on the ground, though half of that came in a home loss to Sacramento State back in September. Without Powell, the Buffs had to turn to redshirt sophomore Tony Jones at tailback, who is a compact runner at 5-foot-7 and has only been used in small doses since the opener against Colorado State. In the passing game, look for Jordan Webb to run the Colorado offense at quarterback, and like most of the Buffaloes starters, he’s had his ups and downs. Webb comes into the game with a passer rating of 115.7, with only Washington State’s Connor Halliday below him in the Pac-12. Despite not having Richardson at receiver, Webb has shown that he’s capable of having strong games, as he threw for 345 yards in the win over Washington State and was efficient in a losing effort to UCLA the week after, completing 66 percent of his passes. For more on Colorado’s offense, click here.

The USC defense has been stellar through six games, being the one stable unit the Trojans have fielded. They are sixth in the nation in sacks, which bodes well against Colorado, as the Buffs have allowed more sacks per game than anyone, with 4.5. For the fourth game in a row, this should be a game in which the Trojans dominate the defensive line of scrimmage and look for Morgan Breslin to have yet another stellar game.

Colorado’s Projected Offensive Starters:WR Tyler McCulloch #87LT David Bakhtiari #59LG Alexander Lewis #71C Gus Handler #55RG David Munyer #52RT Jack Harris #75TE Nick Kasa #44QB Jordan Webb #4TB Tony Jones #26FB Alex Wood #47WR Nelson Spruce #22

USC’s Projected Defensive StartersDE Wes Horton #96DT George Uko #90NT Antwaun Woods #99DE Morgan Breslin #91WLB Hayes Pullard #10MLB Lamar Dawson #55SLB Dion Bailey #18CB Nickell Robey #21SS Jawanza Starling #29FS T.J. McDonald #7CB Torin Harris #4

When USC has the ball…

Six games into the season, the Cardinal and Gold faithful are starting to wonder when the fireworks are going to start and if the hype had validity. The Trojans started with the expected bang against Hawai’i, with the season’s first play from scrimmage being a spectacular 75-yard catch and run by Marqise Lee that was straight out of Techmo Bowl. USC scored 49 points in the game, and it appeared they could have put up 100 had they wanted to. But since conference play started, things haven’t gone as planned. Far from leading the Heisman race with blinding statistics, Matt Barkley is forth in the Pac-12 in passing yards per game (and about 100 yards per game behind the top two), and 38th nationally. As a team, USC is sixth in the Pa-12 in passing yards per game and in total yards the Trojans are seventh. Today against Colorado, they’ll be looking to get things back on track and improve on their third quarter scoring. For more on USC’s offense, click here.

When the Colorado Buffaloes walk into the LA Coliseum on Saturday, they’ll do so with a defense ranked 116th in nation in total yards, which helps explain the Buffs’ 1-5 start. Jon Embree’s young defense is led by weakside linebacker Derrick Webb, who is tied for the team lead in tackles with 41, and defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe, who is sixth in the conference in sacks with six. Kenneth Crawley, a four-star corner out of D.C. has been the heart of the secondary, despite starting from Day 1 as a true freshman. He’s among the team leaders in tackles, a dubious sign for a cornerback, and even though he’s yet to record his first interception, he hasn’t shown to be too much of a liability in pass coverage. For more on Colorado’s defense, click here.

USC’s Projected Offensive StartersWR Robert Woods #2TE Xavier Grimble #86 or Randall Telfer #82LT Aundrey Walker #70 and Max Tuerk #75LG Marcus Martin #66 or Abe Markowitz #50C Khaled Holmes #78RG John Martinez #59RT Kevin Graf #77WR Marqise Lee #9QB Matt Barkley #7RB Silas Redd #25FB Soma Vainuku #31

Colorado’s Projected Defensive Starters:DE Will Pericak #83 or Kirk Poston #91DT Nate Bonsu #99 or Will Pericak #83NT Josh Tupou #55DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe #96MLB Doug Rippy #3WLB Derrick Webb #1SLB Jon Major #31CB Kenneth Crawley #2FS Parker Owens #13SS Terrel Smith #41CB Greg Hendersen #20

Game Notes

  • Robert Woods is just four catches shy of Dwayne Jarrett for the school record for pass catches in a career. Woods will break Jarrett’s record in eight fewer games if he can surpass him today.
  • Both USC and Colorado have a player on the roster named Alex Wood. For the Buffs, Wood is a fullback, while for the Trojans, Wood is a backup kicker.
  • The last time Colorado came to the Coliseum, the Trojans were ranked 11th in AP Poll, as they are today. On that day in 2000, David Newbury’s 24-yard field goal with 13 seconds remaining gave the Trojans the victory. It’s the second most recent game-winning field goal for USC , with that same year’s UCLA game also being decided on a late field goal.
  • Colorado is 2-14-1 all-time in the state of California following a 69-14 loss to Fresno State back in September. Their two wins came in the 1996 Holiday Bowl over Washington and at the Rose Bowl in 2003 against UCLA.
  • Since Pac-12 play began in 2011, Colorado has a record of 3-9, while the Trojans are 10-3.