Contact Sports Staff Writer Jake Mauff at Jacob.Mauff@colorado.edu.
Colorado had a rough game last week against Stanford, but the team will look toward their game this Friday against USC to rebound.
The upcoming game doesn’t offer much in favor for the Buffs, who are coming off of a 32-point loss at home. Colorado, like USC, will have a short week after playing on Saturday. To top it all off, it’s going to be Friday the 13th for a team that likes to wear black.
Not to sound superstitious, but this is an uphill battle for the Buffs. USC is currently unranked, but they’re receiving votes and coming off of a comeback win against Arizona.
The Trojans are on a three-game winning streak, which started with a convincing win over then-unbeaten Utah.
USC’s offense is well balanced. They are, on paper, a pass first team, with redshirt senior quarterback Cody Kessler leading the way. He’s 19th in the country in passing yards and tied for 18th in passing touchdowns.
He may not even be their best offensive player. Sophomore wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is fourth in the nation with 1,094 yards. He also has nine touchdowns.
Last week, the receiver had eight catches for 138 yards and a touchdown. He has a broken right hand and had surgery five days before the game.
“They do have a good passing attack,” said head coach Mike MacIntyre. “But since [interim coach Clay] Helton’s come in, they’re running the ball more.”
Freshman running back Ronald Jones II also had a heck of a game against Arizona. He carried the ball 19 times for 177 yards and a score. That’s good for 9.3 yards a touch. He also caught a touchdown pass.
Colorado has the 61st-ranked pass defense. Containing Kessler is going to be easier said than done. He only has five interceptions on the year. Colorado’s defense does have a tendency to snag passes from opposing quarterbacks, though, as the Buffs have 11 interceptions on the year.
The big problem is Colorado’s has the 119th-ranked red zone offense. They’re scoring in the red zone 72.7 percent of the time. There are only eight teams worse than the Buffs in that aspect.
USC’s defense also had a dominant performance last week. They held Arizona to 60 yards of rushing off of 32 carries and sacked the quarterback six times.
This game may not be optimistic for the rush-first Buffs. Colorado rushed 30 times last week, compared to their 23 pass plays. With junior quarterback Sefo Liufau adding his legs to this offense, the team is centered on the ground. It opens up passing lanes too.
“It starts with the o-line up front,” Liufau said. “Being able to run the ball, setting up the pass and being able to get that first first down. Keep the drive going.”
Kickoff this week is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m. (MST), and the game can be seen on ESPN2.