Colorado (1-3) vs. Southern California (2-2); Afternoon Saturday, Folsom Field
TV/Radio: Pac-12 Network/850 AM, 94.1 FM
Line: USC-7.5, 51.5 over/under
Season: 64 degree, sunny
what to know
Mustafa’s back. The Buffs’ biggest strength, their defensive front seven, got even stronger this week with the return of lineman Mustafa Johnson. The 6-foot-2, 290-pound senior was a second-team All-Pac-12 pick last fall before he entered the NFL Draft. Johnson applied and was waived by the NCAA to regain his eligibility. With a formidable Trojan offensive line approaching town, Johnson has a chance to make an immediate impact.
failure to Launch. In the past 11 quarters, CU has had one touchdown, two field goals and nine drives that crossed midfield. QB Brendan Lewis has the second-worst passing efficiency number (89.85) in the FBS, the team’s leading pass catcher has 45 yards through four games, and the offense has not produced a play of 40 yards or more. All this is to say, CU’s passing attack is broken, and offensive coordinator Darin Chiaverini is under pressure to fix it quickly.
Trojan skit. Head coach Clay Helton was fired in all two matches for USC, and the program was handed over to the team’s third interim coach in nine seasons – Donnett Williams. Results under Williams went from good (45-14 win at Washington State) last week to really bad (45-27 loss to Oregon State), with most of the good quarterbacks coming in with Jackson darts. Now that Dart is unavailable – reportedly due to meniscus surgery – Kydon Slovis is once again the undisputed starter in QB.
streak. USC and CU have met on the football field 14 times, and the Buffs have lost each one. If ever there was a year to end that streak, it might be, as the Trojans went limp in Boulder with an interim coach and embarrassed by Oregon State in the Beavers’ first win over USC at the Coliseum since 1960. After that his program started again.
Drake London vs Buffs DB. Want to shut down USC Air Raid? It starts with putting a body (or two) on the 6-foot-5, 210-pound Londoner. In many ways, the junior wide receiver is the Trojan’s offense, accounting for 34.5% of the team’s reception (39) and 43.8% of its receiving yards (540). Whether it’s the bigger Christian Gonzalez, the more experienced Mekhi Blackman or some combination of defensive backs, the Buffs can’t lose sight of London.
Buffs O-Line vs Trojan D-Line. USC DE Drake claims a future first-round pick on its defensive line at Jackson, but as Oregon State proved last week, these Trojans can be pushed around. Beavers ran for 322 yards (6.3 per carry) in last week’s blowout, which included a demoralizing drive between the third and fourth quarters that saw him rush 64 yards for eight consecutive runs. Translation: Buffs RB Jarek Broussard may finally have some room to hang out.
Kyle Fredrickson, sports reporter: USC 28, CU 10
The Carl Dorrell honeymoon is officially over after another defeat. CU’s number one task going forward should be recruiting its next quarterback.
Sean Keeler, sports columnist: USC 30 CU 17
Trojans cannot stop the run. Buffs cannot pass. This means that the team that goes below double digits in this is going to be in a world of injury. Pain, your name is Ralphie.
Matt Schubert, Deputy Sports Editor: USC 23, CU 13
Trojans are just as vulnerable as they have been during the time of the buffs in the Pac-12. But even during that period CU’s offense may be the worst offense ever committed.