Colorado (1-3) vs. Southern California (2-2); Noon Saturday, Folsom Field
TV/Radio: PAC-12 Network/850 AM, 94.1 FM
Line: USC -7.5, 51.5 over/under
Weather: 64 degrees, 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 entering his name in the NFL draft. Johnson applied for and was granted a waiver by the NCAA to re-gain his eligibility. With a rickety Trojans offensive line coming to town, Johnson has a chance to make an instant impact.
Failure to launch. In the past 11 quarters, CU has one touchdown, two field goals and nine drives that crossed midfield. QB Brendon Lewis has the second worst passing efficiency number (89.85) in FBS, the team’s leading pass catcher has 45 yards through four games, and the offense has not produced one play of 40 yards or longer. All of which is to say, CU’s passing attack is broken, and the pressure is on offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini to fix it immediately.
Trojan farce. It took all of two games for USC to fire embattled head coach Clay Helton and hand the program over to Donte Williams — the team’s third interim coach in nine seasons. The results under Williams swung from good (45-14 win at Washington State) to really bad (45-27 loss to Oregon State) last week, with most of the good coming with Jaxson Dart at quarterback. Now that Dart is unavailable — reportedly due to a meniscus surgery — Kedon Slovis is once again the unquestioned starter at QB.
The 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, this might be it, as the Trojans limp into Boulder with an interim coach and their program reeling after getting embarrassed by Oregon State in the Beavers’ first win over USC at the Coliseum since 1960.
Drake London vs. Buffs DBs. Want to shut down the USC Air Raid? It starts with putting a body (or two) on the 6-foot-5, 210-pound London. In many ways, the junior wide receiver is the Trojans’ offense, accounting for 34.5% of the team’s receptions (39) and 43.8% of its receiving yards (540). Whether it’s the bigger Christian Gonzalez, the more experienced Mekhi Blackmon or some combination of defensive backs, the Buffs cannot lose sight of London.
Buffs O-line vs. Trojans D-line. USC boasts a future first-round pick on its defensive line in DE Drake Jackson, but as Oregon State proved last week, these Trojans can be pushed around. The Beavers ran for 322 yards (6.3 per carry) in last week’s blowout, including one demoralizing drive between the third and fourth quarters that saw them march 64 yards on eight consecutive runs. Translation: Buffs RB Jarek Broussard might finally get some room to roam.
Kyle Fredrickson, sports reporter: USC 28, CU 10
The Karl Dorrell honeymoon is officially over after another lopsided defeat. CU’s number one task moving forward should be recruiting its next quarterback.
Sean Keeler, sports columnist: USC 30 CU 17
The Trojans can’t stop the run. The Buffs can’t pass. Which means the team that gets down by double digits first in this one is going to wind up in a world of hurt. Pain, thy name is Ralphie.
Matt Schubert, deputy sports editor: USC 23, CU 13
The Trojans are as vulnerable as they’ve ever been during the Buffs’ time in the Pac-12. But CU’s offense may be the worst its ever been during that period as well.
Source: Read Full Article