Friday night’s USC vs. Colorado score final surely was affected by it being Friday the 13th. An up and down outing for the Trojans saw Clay Helton’s side get their seventh win of the season, but not without struggling to a 27-24 final tally.
The lowdown: USC went 58 yards on 10 plays during the game’s first drive, but struggled to do anything on offense for most of the first half. Meanwhile, Colorado started off start by scoring on a touchdown drive midway through the first quarter, followed by taking advantage of a Cody Kessler interception with a second score. Towards the end of the half, the Buffaloes had a 17-3 lead while the Trojans struggled to make stops and couldn’t extend drives on third down. That changed on the final drive of the second quarter, when USC marched down the field to go into the half on the foot of an Alex Wood field goal. They then scored on their first three drives after halftime, with Kessler throwing three touchdown passes to Jahleel Pinner, Taylor McNamara and JuJu Smith-Schuster. The comeback gave the Trojans all of the momentum in the world, and included a blocked field goal by Adoree’ Jackson. Just when it looked like USC could do no wrong, Colorado would answer with a Nelson Spruce punt return to set up a late touchdown. A pair of failed Trojan drives later, Colorado couldn’t capitalize and the Trojans held on for a 27-24 win to run their all-time record to 10-0 over Colorado.
The takeaway: For the third-straight week, the Trojans needed to get over early game struggles. They rebounded with a strong third quarter to take a stranglehold of the game, but how many times can they go to the well with a comeback? Friday’s win marked the second-straight game in which USC won after trailing by 14 points, but it was also the first game they’ve won after having a double-digit halftime deficit since being down 21-3 at Arizona State in 2005. Much like that game in Tempe, the Trojans went back to simplicity and got the job done by trusting their defensive playmakers, spreading the ball around and running the football. It’ll be significantly harder to do that in the next two weeks, as USC finishes the season at Oregon next week, followed by UCLA. They’re arguably the two toughest games of the year given the environments and pressures around the matchups, and the Trojans cannot afford to keep falling behind.
Player of the game: Once again, Su’a Cravens came up big when the Trojans needed him. The junior linebacker had eight total tackles, a sack and a pair of tackles for loss to help fuel USC’s rejuvenated pass rush. Altogether, the team had six sacks for the second week in a row.
Stat of the game: USC grabbed the game by the horns with a 24-0 run that began just before halftime. It was the fifth time in Clay Helton’s six games as the Trojans’ interim head coach that the team has had a run of 21 consecutive points or more. The only time they didn’t do it was last week against Arizona, when USC had a 38-9 run to fuel a comeback.
Next on tap: The Trojans now have seven full days to prepare for the Oregon Ducks, as they’ll return to Autzen Stadium for the first time since upsetting Chip Kelly’s national title contender in 2011.