USC vs. Colorado: 10 Things We Learned in Trojans' Win
USC improves to 9-3 on the season after an almost effortless win over Colorado. Both sides of the ball played extremely well, and the 47-29 score is really no indication of how one-sided the Pac-12 matchup truly was.
But what did we learn from this under-the-radar meeting?
Besides the win, USC no longer has a shot at a Pac-12 title, the Trojans have discovered a new superstar and Colorado may not be as bad as you previously thought.
Javorius Allen Is a Superstar
We've seen enough. It's time to declare Javorius Allen a star running back. The sophomore carried the ball 21 times for 145 yards and three touchdowns. He also caught three passes for 24 yards. Allen has now rushed for more than 100 yards in three of the last four games and has scored 10 total touchdowns in the last four contests.
Do you need any more convincing?
USC hasn't had a running back this explosive since some guy named Reggie Bush was carrying the rock. Allen is the real deal and gives this offense a chance to score every time the ball is in his hands.
Colorado Won't Go Bowling
No surprise here, but the loss to USC officially removes Colorado from bowl eligibility. It will be the sixth straight season the Buffaloes have fallen short of the postseason.
While the players have every right to be disappointed, head coach Mike MacIntyre has done a wonderful job simply by leading this team to four wins on the year. Although only one of those wins came in conference play, Colorado is steadily showing improvement and is certainly more competitive than the one-win team last season.
No bowl game this year, but it won't be long before Colorado is knocking on the door.
Cody Kessler Really Is a Good QB
Remember when everybody was wondering who the starting quarterback was going to be?
It doesn't seem to be a question any longer.
Cody Kessler had yet another solid game, as he completed 67.9 percent of his passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Most importantly, it was his third straight game without throwing an interception. He's become a great game manager, and his confidence is growing each week.
OK, maybe he's not as flashy as Carson Palmer or Matt Barkley, but Kessler has proven himself over the last several weeks. He deserves some serious kudos for this five-game winning streak.
USC's Offensive Line Needs to Improve
One area that USC needs to improve is the offensive line. Heading into this game, USC allowed 25 sacks, and the performance against Colorado wasn't much better.
The running game had a hard time picking up positive yardage in the first half due to the lack of holes, and quarterback Cody Kessler spent several of 28 pass attempts under pressure.
It's well-documented that the offensive line has experienced several changes and lacks depth. However, the big boys up front need to play with a little more consistency if this team is going to take that next step.
If Colorado's defensive front can have success, what will UCLA do next week?
The Offense Doesn't Need Marqise Lee
It would be foolish to say USC's offense isn't better with Marqise Lee on the field. But at least for one game, it proved that it doesn't need the star receiver to move the ball.
The running game pounded out 243 yards, and four different players caught at least three passes. The offense scored seven touchdowns and moved the ball with ease while Lee nursed an injury he suffered in the Stanford game.
USC will need Lee back on the field next week against UCLA, but this performance should be a nice confidence boost for the other guys.
Xavier Grimble Can Make Plays Too
With Lee out, others had to step up in a big way. Finally, Xavier Grimble was used a lot more as a receiver, as he finished the game with six receptions for 46 yards.
It may not sound like a lot, but his six catches led the team and also set a new career high.
Grimble has a huge size advantage at 6'5" and moves quite well for a big man. However, his 15 catches coming into this game were quite pedestrian. Maybe this game wakes him up and provides more looks his way in the remaining games. After all, he proved he can be quite the mismatch for defenses.
Trojans Defense Is Legit
The final statistics don't do this defense any justice.
Yes, Colorado racked up 318 yards of total offense. Yes, 29 points were scored. However, the Buffaloes didn't score their first offensive point until the fourth quarter. Their star wide receiver (Paul Richardson) didn't catch a pass until the second half.
USC's defense played lights out for three quarters and then allowed Colorado's offense to have a little fun once the backups were thrown onto the field. Don't let the stats fool you. USC could have possibly pitched a shutout if the starters played for 60 minutes and Javorius Allen didn't fumble away a touchdown.
This unit is scary good when it wants to be.
Colorado's Defense Also Isn't That Bad
Another case of where numbers lie.
The 47 points and 449 yards aren't pretty, but this unit came to play.
USC only had 23 points heading into halftime, and two of those came off a safety. Colorado also forced four punts in the first half and scored a touchdown to begin the second half. It's not the defense's fault that it consistently was held to three-and-outs and couldn't hold the ball for longer than a minute at a time.
Like always, the defense is going to fold when it's on the field every time it turns around. Eventually a talented Trojans offense is going to put points on the board. And that's what happened.
Still, Colorado's defense deserves a pat on the back for its effort.
It's a New Day for USC
A win was expected from USC against a far less talented Colorado team. But nobody was quite sure how convincing the win would be after a big win against Stanford last week.
Would there be a letdown factor?
Would the team come out sluggish?
Ed Orgeron had his guys ready from the opening kick, as USC was in control for all four quarters. Even when Colorado made a little run near the end of the game, the Trojans quickly answered with a score of their own. This team is almost unrecognizable from just a couple of months ago.
Orgeron needs to seriously be considered for the full-time head coaching job.
USC Won't Play for the Pac-12 Title
While USC was taking care of its own business, there was another important Pac-12 game that was going on at the same time. Unfortunately, UCLA wasn't able to complete its comeback against Arizona State and ended up losing the game 38-33.
The win gives the Sun Devils the Pac-12 South Division and eliminates the Trojans.
While it may hurt a little bit, USC should be thrilled with five straight wins and a chance to knock off another ranked opponent next week in UCLA.
Pac-12 title or not, things are clearly looking up for this program.