USC vs. Colorado 2017: The matchup by the numbers

Harry How/Getty Images
Harry How/Getty Images /

The magic number for the Trojans to clinch the Pac-12 South division is one. Here are some interesting statistics from the upcoming USC vs. Colorado matchup.

Saturday afternoon in Boulder, Colorado the men of Troy will take on the University of Colorado Buffaloes.

The Pac-12 South clash is a big chance for the Trojans to clinch a trip to Santa Clara for the conference title game, while it’s a chance for the Buffs to play spoiler.

Will USC be able to continue its recent run of form? Or will the Trojans waste their chance to make the College Football Playoff rankings more interesting?

Let’s look at some of the key numbers in the matchup:

The Series

The USC vs. Colorado series has been nothing but a series of wins for USC. The Trojans have won all 11 matchups against the Buffaloes.

Not only has USC won all of its games versus Colorado, but they have outscored the Buffs 381-145 in those 11 games.

The last time USC traveled to Boulder was in 2015 when Cody Kessler led the Trojans to a 27-24 come-from-behind victory. Of course, the Trojans also won their 2016 matchup against the Buffaloes, 21-17, in Los Angeles. The win was Sam Darnold’s second victory as the starting quarterback.

The S&P+ Numbers

Colorado is ranked 52nd in overall offensive S&P+. Their success rate, or ability to gain “successful” yardage on each given down, ranks 65th in the nation. The Buffaloes are 78th in Rushing S&P+ and 52nd in Passing S&P+. In other words, they are a middle of the road offensive team.

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On the opposite side, USC is ranked 59th in total defensive S&P+. However, they are 24th in defensive success rate, 51st in rushing defense and eighth in passing defense in S&P+.

While numbers give USC a slight edge defensively in this matchup, offensive performance is generally the litmus test for this team.

Surprisingly the Trojans rank 12th in total S&P+ on offense while also ranking ninth in success rate. The Trojans offense, while seeming to constantly sputter thanks to ranking 122th in giveaways and 117th in red zone scoring, is also ranked fifth in passing and 31st in rushing.

These numbers appear to prove the season-long narrative that if USC did not turn the ball over so often, the offense would be incredible.

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Colorado’s defense is ranked 93rd overall in S&P+, which should give USC a chance to move the ball, especially because the Buffs rank 108th against the run. It should be another potential big game for Ronald Jones II. Colorado is also ranked 50th in passing defense, so if they load up to stop Jones II, Tyler Vaughns and Deontay Burnett could have big days.

Fast Facts

  • USC is 261-130-20 with a win percentage of .659 all-time in the month of November.
  • USC is still undefeated when Ronald Jones II receives 15 or more carries. This continued against Arizona, when Jones II had a career-high 27 carries.
  • The Trojans have no players from Colorado, while Colorado has 36 players who are from California.
  • The 2017 USC schedule is currently ranked the nation’s eighth most difficult by USA Today/Sagarin.
  • Saturday will be Senior Day for the Buffalo as 21 seniors will be running out behind Ralphie at Folsom Field for the final time in their careers.
  • Colorado linebacker Jacob Callier’s favorite appetizer is tri-tip.