The (3-4) University of Colorado football team returns home to face the (4-3) University of Southern California Friday at 7 p.m. MST. It’s been an uphill battle for Colorado in recent weeks and they’re looking to turn things around in week nine. We preview both sides of the ball, including big picture and historical viewpoints for a fresh edition of CUI staff picks.
CU Offense: Jason Marks, Sports Writer
Score prediction: USC 35, Colorado 38
What happened to the Buffaloes’ offense? In the blowout losses to both Oregon and Washington State, Colorado’s totaled only 13 points on 619 total yards of offense. Quarterback Steven Montez has shown that he is a tale of four quarters. The Buffs seem to click on the first drive of the game, and then fall flat until the fourth quarter when things seem to kick into another gear. This offense has still yet to totally utilize their star wide receiver, Laviska Shenault Jr. If the offense can figure out how to use him more, the Buffs might be able to get back on track.
Not all of the Buffs’ offense is slumping, as the run game has proven that they can be reliable and consistent all game. Running Back Alex Fontenot put up a 105-yard rushing performance in the loss against Washington State, proving just how valuable he is. If head coach Mel Tucker and his staff can integrate more touches for the sophomore back, the offense can find new confidence.
If Montez can limit the interceptions and the coaching staff puts more trust into the run game, I can see Colorado picking up a huge upset against the Trojans
CU Defense: Griffin Rucker, Sports Writer
Score Prediction: USC 45, Colorado 24,
The blows keep coming for Colorado’s defense. News broke on Monday that junior safety Aaron Maddox had entered the transfer portal to give himself another year of eligibility. This means Maddox won’t play for the Buffs again this season and possibly ever. Maddox only played in three games this season but was a key contributor with 22 tackles and two forced fumbles.
Losing a veteran player in the secondary is the last thing CU needed. Their defense has surrendered over 40 points per game in their three-game losing streak and they’ve allowed 316 passing yards a game this season – putting them at 129 out of 130 schools in passing defense. It’s also not going to get better anytime soon now that they have to face a team that has three receivers with over 30 receptions on the year.
If Colorado shocks the college football world and upsets the Trojans this week, it will likely be due to their offense. But it’s difficult to imagine this young Buffs secondary putting up much of a fight against a USC team that’s been rolling on offense recently.
History and Big Picture: Jack Carlough, Head Sports Editor
Score Prediction: USC 30, Colorado 23
Buffs fans might want to shield their eyes when looking at the history of the CU vs. USC matchup. Overall, the Buffs are 0-13 against the Trojans and 0-8 since joining the Pac-12 in 2011. Last year, Colorado came close to snapping the streak but lost 31-20 in what was the first of seven consecutive losses to finish the season.
As for this season, the last place Buffs are reeling in the Pac-12 South. They’re coming off two 30+ point losses against Oregon and Washington State and the road won’t get any easier against Pac-12 South leader USC. Still, it is a tight race in the South. Just two conference wins separate the Buffs and Trojans, and a win for Colorado would put them back in the middle of things.
Lastly, knock on wood, the Trojans are winless on the road in 2019. USC has lost to three solid opponents in Washington, BYU and No. 8 Notre Dame away from Los Angeles. It doesn’t mean they’ll lose their perfect 6-0 record all-time in Boulder, but it is a sign of optimism for Buffs fans. With all the problems on both sides of the ball for CU, it’s hard to imagine a Folsom Friday upset and I’ll take USC by a touchdown.
USC Defense: George Hakala, Sports Writer
Score Prediction: USC 31, Colorado 6
The Trojans will come to Boulder with a stout defense, led by senior linebacker John Houston Jr. and his 8.6 tackles per game. USC has only given up 24 points per game this season, and never once forfeited more than 30 points. This bad news bears for a Buffs offense earning fewer yards per game than the Trojans defense gives up, 407.7 and 416.4 respectively. USC’s defense will look to follow up a dominant performance against Arizona last Saturday. The Trojans held Arizona’s three quarterbacks to an average QBR of 8.6, found three turnovers and six sacks, and held the Wildcats to only 14 points. If that wasn’t already cause for concern, the Trojans put up those numbers despite six major injuries to their defense alone.
Following two ugly losses on the road, the Buffs are doubtlessly desperate for a strong performance in Folsom. Unfortunately, this USC defense will be the strongest to come to Boulder this season so far. Ever the pessimist, it seems to me that the deck is stacked against CU this week, so I anticipate the Trojans put CU’s offense in a stranglehold.
Contact CU Independent Head Sports Editor Jack Carlough at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Jason Marks at email@example.com and follow him on twitter @Jason_Marks42
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer George Hakala at firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Griffin Rucker at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GriffinRucker