USC Football Schedule Preview 2015: Scouting Colorado


USC football takes on a steadily improving Colorado Buffaloes team with an upset special on their minds this fall.

RELATED: 5 USC records that could be broken in 2015

Mike MacIntyre may have only one conference win as head coach of Colorado, but his team was not as bad as their 2-10 record in 2012 might suggest. After taking UCLA, Utah, Oregon State and Cal to the brink last season, the Buffaloes enter 2015 banking on finishing what they started.

Here’s an early look at USC’s tenth opponent of the year:


Quarterback Sefo Luifau more than doubled his touchdown production from year one to year two, but did the same to his interception totals as well in his first year as the full time starter.

Nov 22, 2014; Eugene, OR, USA; Colorado Buffaloes quarterback Sefo Liufau (13) throws the ball against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Luifau’s junior season will hinge on making strides in the decision making department. He avoided throwing an interception in just two games in 2014 while notching two in five games. The difference between Colorado challenging for victories and actually achieving them is in turnover margin, which the Buffaloes ranked 11th in the Pac-12.

All-Pac-12 second teamer Nelson Spruce and Shay Fields will be back for their senior and sophomore season respectively, affording Luifau his favored receiver targets for 2015. However, graduated receivers Tyler McCulloch and D.D. Goodson will no longer be available.

Three of Colorado’s top four leading rushers from last season return. Considering the four-man rotation the Buffaloes utilized in 2014, senior Christian Powell will likely share even reps with junior Michael Adkins II and sophomore Phillip Lindsay.

Both guards on the offensive line need to be replaced, including All-Pac-12 honorable mention Daniel Munyer.


Former South Florida head coach and 49ers linebackers coach Jim Leavitt was hired this offseason to turn around a Colorado defense that has finished no higher than No. 114 nationally in scoring defense during the MacIntyre era.

The Buffaloes return nearly everyone on the defensive line this season, except stating tackle Juda Parker. With junior college transfer Jordan Carrell and grey shirt Leo Jackson incoming, along with four other defensive line signees in the 2015 class, Colorado’s depth should be much improved upfront.

Senior Josh Tupou is the leader on the line and could be in the mix for conference honors.

Nov 16, 2013; Boulder, CO, USA; California Golden Bears wide receiver Bryce Treggs (1) is tackled after a reception by Colorado Buffaloes defensive back Chidobe Awuzie (4) in the first quarter at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Linebackers Kenneth Olugbode and Addison Gillam led the team in tackles as sophomores and return for their junior years.

The linebacking corps does lose the services of Brady Dalgh, Woodson Greer and K.T. Tu’umalo however, which will leave the unit rather thin in terms of experience.

Colorado’s secondary could be the strength of the team, especially thanks to safety Jared Bell being granted a medical redshirt after missing the 2014 season.

Junior starters Tedric Thompson and Chidobe Awuzie also return at the position, though Awuzie could be moved back to cornerback.

At cornerback, Ken Crawley will start for his fourth and final season. Greg Henderson’s departure means there is a hole to fill on the opposite side of the field. Junior Ahkello Witherspoon, who served as an understudy in 2014, looks primed to step into his shoes.

Special Teams:

The Buffaloes will be without last year’s starting punter and kicker in 2015.

Incoming freshman Alex Kinney is likely to take over punting duties, while Kinney, junior Diego Gonzalez and sophomore Chris Graham will battle it out for the place kicking role.

Lindsay handled kickoff returns in 2014 and should retain that job.

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On punt returns, Spruce and Fields could split time as they did last year.

Threat Level: Upset Alert

On paper, Colorado and USC are not on the same level.

Of course the same could be said about USC and Boston College last year or the Trojans and any number of teams that have upset them over the years.

The Buffaloes are a danger team because they proved they can challenge the big boys in 2014. The next step is landing the killing blow.

Though they will certainly finish at the bottom of the Pac-12 south, Colorado is not the pushover they once were.