#23 Southern California Trojans at Colorado Buffaloes
Folsom Field – Boulder, Colorado
Saturday, November 23, 2013, 9:30 pm Eastern, TV: Pac 12 Network
Opening Line: USC -21 1/2
Current Line: USC -21 1/2
Opening Total: 53 1/2
Current Total: 54 1/2
Opening Money Line: USC -1500 / Colorado +890
Current Money Line: USC -1300 / Colorado +810
Remarkably, the USC Trojans have not played in a snow game since 1957 when they played at Notre Dame. That will change Saturday night as the 8-3 Trojans travel to snowy Boulder to face the 4-6 Colorado Buffaloes. Both teams have bigger concerns than the weather though. USC is 5-2 in the Pac 12 South. The Trojans are tied with UCLA for second in the division behind 6-1 Arizona State. If USC beats Colorado and UCLA next week, and Arizona State loses their remaining two games at UCLA and Arizona, then the Trojans would go to the Pac 12 Championship game. Colorado is 1-6 in the conference, but the Buffaloes can become bowl eligible if they upset USC and beat Utah next week. USC leads the series 7-0 against Colorado, including 50-6 last year in LA. The Trojans have won each game in the series by an average score of 33-7.
USC is coached by interim coach Ed Orgeron, who took over when Lane Kiffin was fired after the Arizona State game. Southern Cal has gone 5-1 under Orgeron, and has won 4 straight games. The Trojans have a home loss to Washington State 10-7, and road losses at Arizona State 62-41 and at Notre Dame 14-10. USC has home wins over Boston College 35-7, Utah State 17-14, Arizona 38-31, Utah 19-3 and last week over then #5 Stanford 20-17 along with road wins at Hawaii 30-13, Oregon State 31-14, and at California 62-28. The Trojans are 6-5 ATS and the total is 3-8 this season. USC was a 3.5 point underdog against Stanford and the total was 45.
USC took a 14-7 first quarter lead against Stanford last week. Each team kicked a field goal in the second quarter to make it 17-10 at halftime. The Cardinal tied it up at 17 midway through the third quarter. Stanford would have five more drives that ended with a blocked field goal, two interceptions and two punts. USC kicked the go ahead 47 yard field goal with 19 seconds left in the fourth. Stanford tried a couple of laterals on their last play but nothing really developed and the Trojans snapped a four game losing streak to the Cardinal. It was a very disappointing loss for Stanford a week after they upset Oregon at home. Stanford had 337 total yards including 210 rushing yards. USC had 311 total yards including 288 passing yards. The Cardinal were unable to overcome 6 penalties for 70 yards, 3 turnovers, and the blocked field goal. USC had one turnover.
The Trojans are outscoring teams 28-19 this season. USC is #16 in points allowed out of 125 FBS teams. USC is averaging 394.3 total yards per game, including 223.2 passing and 171.1 rushing yards. USC is #70 or worse in total, passing and rushing offense. The Trojans are allowing 338.8 total yards per game including just 121.4 rushing yards per game and 217.5 passing yards. USC is #17 in total defense and #18 in rush defense nationally. USC is +7 in turnovers with 19 takeaways. The Trojans have forced 31 sacks and allowed 25. USC is 51/154 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 60/179. The Trojans are averaging 60 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 48. USC is 28/31 scoring in the red zone with 19 touchdowns, and opponents are 19/33 with 14 touchdowns. The Trojans have 3 punt returns for touchdown and one pick six this season and have allowed three pick sixes.
Cody Kessler and Max Wittek were splitting the snaps at quarterback but Kessler won the job as he has taken almost all of the snaps the last seven games. Kessler has thrown for 2,265 yards with 13 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, along with a rushing touchdown. Wittek has thrown for 190 yards with a pick. Third string quarterback Max Browne is questionable with a virus but he hasn’t taken a snap yet this season.
Running back Tre Madden has 134 carries for 682 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 15 catches for 201 yards and 4 touchdowns. He returned last week against Stanford after missing the previous two games with a hamstring injury. Javorius Allen has 67 carries, 431 yards and 8 touchdowns, along with 12 catches, 165 yards and a touchdown. Justin Davis has 53 carries, 361 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with a catch. He is out for the season with an ankle injury. Silas Redd has 76 carries, 351 yards and a touchdown, along with 10 catches 45 yards and a touchdown. He is doubtful Saturday with a knee injury and missed last week as well. Running back D.J. Morgan is listed as questionable Saturday with a knee injury as is Taylor Ross.
Receiver Nelson Agholor has 44 catches, 751 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 2 punt returns for touchdowns. Marqise Lee has 44 catches for 604 yards and 2 touchdowns. Darreus Rogers has 16 catches for 162 yards. Xavier Grimble has 15 catches, 174 yards and a touchdown. Six defensive players and two offensive linemen are listed on the injury report for the Trojans.
Colorado is coached by Mike MacIntyre in his first season. The Buffaloes opened the season with wins in Denver 41-27 over Colorado State and at home over Central Arkansas 38-24. The Buffs also beat Charleston Southern in Boulder 43-10 which was a replacement game after Colorado had a home game against Fresno State cancelled because of flooding in Boulder several weeks ago. Colorado beat Cal last week at home 41-24. Colorado lost at Oregon State 44-17, Arizona State 54-13, UCLA 45-23 and Washington 59-7 and were crushed at home against Oregon 57-16 and Arizona 44-20.. The Buffaloes are 5-5 ATS and the total is 7-3 this season. Colorado was a 1 point favorite at home against Califronia and the total was 67.
Colorado took an early 10-0 against California but the Golden Bears tied it up. The Buffaloes would score 14 more points before halftime to take a 24-10 lead into the locker room. Colorado added a third quarter field goal to make it 27-10. Each team scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to make the final 41-24 Buffaloes. Cal had 411 total yards including 197 rushing yards. Colorado had 485 total yards including 364 passing yards. The Golden Bears had two turnovers and the Buffaloes had one.
Colorado is being outscored 39-26 this season. Colorado is #116 out of 125 FBS teams in points allowed and #82 in scoring. The Buffaloes are #84 in total offense averaging 380.6 total yards per game including 252.8 yards per game but the rushing attack is #102 at 127.8 yards per game. On defense, Colorado is allowing 478 total yards per game including 267.5 passing and 210.5 rushing yards. Colorado is #104 or worse in all three categories.. The Buffaloes are -2 in turnovers with 17 takeaways. Colorado is averaging 48 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 44. The Buffaloes are 56/158 on third and fourth down conversions, and opponents are 73/179. Colorado is 22/27 scoring in the red zone with 11 touchdowns, and opponents are 45/54 with 36 touchdowns. The Buffaloes have 3 defensive touchdowns this season and a kickoff return for a touchdown. Colorado has forced 10 sacks and allowed 12 this season.
Quarterback Connor Wood has completed 53.5% of his passes for 1,103 yards with 8 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, along with 22 carries. He has been benched in favor of freshman Sefo Liufau, who started the last five games. Liufau has completed 63.4% of his passes for 1,350 yards with 8 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, along with 30 carries for 50 yards. .
Running back Christian Powell has 134 carries for 509 yards and 3 touchdowns along with 4 catches. Michael Adkins III has 79 carries for 434 yards and 5 touchdowns, along with 8 catches for 111 yards and a touchdown. Tony Jones has 65 carries for 226 yards along with 12 catches for 90 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Paul Richardson has 71 catches, 1,201 yards and 9 touchdowns, and he also has a touchdown pass. Nelson Spruce has 45 catches, 532 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with a kickoff return for a touchdown. D.D. Goodson has 18 catches for 264 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 40 rushing yards . Kicker Justin Castor is out for the season with a hip injury. Fullback Clay Jones is questionable with a neck injury.
USC is 5-0 ATS in Pac 12 games, 4-0 overall, 6-1 against teams with losing home records, 11-5 after allowing 200 rushing yards or more, 39-19 in November, 4-10 after a straight up win, 2-7 after passing for more than 280 yards, and 2-10 in road games,
Colorado is 5-11 at home, 10-22 overall, 11-25-1 after gaining more than 450 total yards, 9-23 against teams with winning records, 8-21 in conference games, 4-11 after scoring 40 points or more, 1-6 after a straight up win, and 1-7 after a cover.
There is no guarantee USC even scores 22 points in the snow even against Colorado’s terrible defense. It is a great accomplishment for Colorado to even be in position to qualify for a bowl after winning only one game last season. However, the best win for Colorado is against a mediocre Colorado State team. USC should win this handily, but watch out for the trap game potential as it is sandwiched between Stanford and UCLA. I like the Troans to win, but Colorado scores a late touchdown for the back door cover.