USC Trojans vs. Colorado Buffaloes Game Preview and Prediction

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USC Trojans vs. Colorado Buffaloes Game Preview and Prediction
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
USC vs. Colorado September 14, 2002; QB Carson Palmer

The No. 21*USC Trojans (6-2) visit the Colorado Buffaloes (1-8) in cold Boulder this Friday night on ESPN in a trap game. The Trojans are banged up from a tough three OT loss to the No. 4* Stanford Cardinal and have one less day to prepare for this game.

As the OC Register quoted USC DE Devon Kennard after the game about bouncing back after the loss during a short week:

We take it one week at a time. It’s only a one day difference. We have to get ready. We have to move on. We’re 6-2 and we want to stay with two losses only. Guys are hurt; that’s how it should be. There’s a couple of guys crying. It was a tough loss, but we have to be able to bounce back.

This could be bad news for Colorado, who played well this season against only one Pac-12 team, losing 36-33 in OT to the California Golden Bears.

The teams have played only five times and USC has never lost. The game is approaching a sellout and this would be the third straight game the Trojans have played in front of a capacity crowd.

The Buffs will have the weather in their favor as the current high for the day is forecasted to be 44 degrees and it will be colder in the night game. If the weather holds, there should be no snow which is good news for the fair weather Californians.

Here is the USC Media Release.

 

Key Stats Comparison

Category USC Ranking Colorado Ranking
Rushing Offense (Yards) 146 74 90 114
Passing Offense (Yards) 286.5 24 245.1 48
Total Offense (Yards 432.5 36 335.1 98
Scoring Offense (Points) 32.4 38 18.8 111
Passing Efficiency (Percent) 151.3 19 124.7 76
Third Down Conversions (Percent) 45.6 36 35.6 T-94
Red Zone Conversions (TDs) 51.4 95 54.6 T-102
Sacks allowed (Number) 0.5 T-3 3.1 107
Rushing Defense (Yards) 103 16 185.7 85
Pass Defense (Yards) 273.3 102 248.9 92
Total Defense (Yards) 376.3 54 434.6 100
Scoring Defense (Points) 26.8 64 38.3 117
Sacks (Number) 1.88 64 2.33 37
Tackles for Loss (Number) 4.38 108 5.22 82
Net Punting (Yards/Punt) 33.8 107 38.3 28
Punt Returns (Yards) 10.1 41 4.8 104
Kickoff Returns (Yards) 19.2 104 18.5 110
FG Success (Percent) 86.7 13 75 T-39
Turnover Margin 0 T-57 -0.44 91
Penalties 50.3 59 71.2 T-115
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
QB Matt Barkley leads the USC offense

Keys to USC victory

The Trojans dominate all the stats except red zone conversions, pass defense, sacks, tackles for loss, net punting and kickoff returns.

Trojans QB Matt Barkley needs just 108 yards of total offense to move into third on the school's all-time total offense list.

As long as USC builds on the Stanford game and continue to play aggressive defense and makes few mistakes on offense they will beat the Buffs.

The one thing that USC knows in this situation is that you cannot take any team for granted and expect to win.

Folsom Field is a mile above sea level and the thinner air may have the Trojans huffing and puffing in the second half. So it is important for USC to get an early lead and build on that.

A number of USC players have injuries to overcome including RB Marc Tyler, RB George Farmer, CB Torin Harris and LB Dion Bailey.

The Trojans have lost a lot of players this season including CB Anthony Brown (ankle), TE Christian Thomas (hip), LB Marquis Simmons (neck), C Abe Markowitz (foot), CB Brian Baucham (ineligible), DT Armond Armstead (medical), TE Junior Pomee (foot), DE-FB Charles Burks (knee), OG Giovanni Di Poalo (shoulder), S Patrick Hall (knee), CB Taylor Ashton (appendix), S Troy Cardona (foot), WR Cody Gifford (ankle) and OG-C John Katnik (shoulder).

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
QB Tyler Hansen leads the Buffs offense

 

Keys to Colorado Buffaloes Victory

Colorado has faced a barrage of injuries; five players suspended for the rest of the season and many players on the disabled list.

The Buffs have a passing offense led by senior QB Tyler Hansen (2,029 yards, 56.7 percent, 14 TDs, 6 INTs and 129.3 rating). He ranks in the school's all-time Top 10 charts in passing yards, pass completions, passing TDs and total offense.

Senior 5’6” RB Rodney Stewart is the best RB (473 yards on 113 carries, 4.2 average, 1 TD) and freshman 5’7” Tony Jones is the second leading rusher (212 yards on 61 carries, 3.5 average, 2 TD).

Stewart sprained his knee against Washington and didn’t play against Arizona State. Freshman RB Malcolm Creer gave up his redshirt and played instead, but he had only six yards on four carries. RB Josh Ford had 73 yards on 10 carries. However, Stewart is likely to return against the Trojans.

The receiving corps is led by WR Paul Richardson (474 yards on 29 receptions, 5 TDs), RB Stewart (435 yards on 28 receptions) and WR Toney Clemons (301 yards on 26 receptions, 4 TDs).

The problem for the Buffs is that Richardson injured his knee on October 9 and hasn’t played since then. However, he is also likely to return against USC.

Hansen spreads the ball as seven players have more than 13 receptions.

The Buffs defense is ranked No. 100 nationally and will have a tough time stopping both the Trojan passing and rushing attacks. Safety Anthony Perkins is the tackle leader that lost key ILB Douglas Rippy to a knee injury.

Two injured defensive players are likely to return for the USC game: starting CB Travis Sandersfeld and CB Vince Ewing.

They will need to force Trojan turnovers and keep third down conversions under 40 percent to slow down the USC offense.

Colorado will be a better team than they have been in recent games.

Dual-footed frreshman punter Darragh O'Neill is in the nation's Top 30 in punting.

 

Prediction

USC opened as a 21 point favorite; however anything can happen in this game.

USC 34, Colorado 17 

Catch the nationally televised game on ESPN or ESPN 3D this Friday at 9:00 p.m. ET if you can’t make it in person.

 

*Week 10 AP ranking

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