It was about 35 degrees at the end of the game, and USC fans enjoyed the win a lot more than the cold.
USC QB Matt Barkley (25-of-39 for 318 yards and 1 INT) set the Trojan record with six TD passes even though he was not at his best, and receivers Robert Woods (9 receptions, 132 yards, 2 TDs) and Marqise Lee (10 receptions, 131 yards, 2 TDs) dropped a few passes.
Hopefully Barkley will return next season to break his TD record, he entered the locker room to fan chants of “one more year.”
What are the five things the Trojans learned?
1. The Trojans bounced back from its heartbreaking triple-overtime loss to No. 4* Stanford on Saturday, and adjusted to six new starters and other substitutions. This is a credit to the players and coaching staff, staying focused despite a possible letdown, the short week, chilly weather, high altitude, injuries and safety T.J. McDonald's suspension.
2. Colorado started quickly with a scoring drive, taking advantage of the new USC defensive starters, but was contained most of the rest of the game. RB Rodney Stewart (21 carries for 87 yards, 6 receptions for 69 yards) accounted for much of the 385 yards in offense. The Buffs were missing a lot of players on defense and it showed, it is understandable why they have won only one game. However, Ralphie the Buffalo is a pretty cool mascot.
3. USC continues to run well enough to help the passing attack, as starting RB Curtis McNeal had 86 yards on 10 carries before he was injured. Freshman Amir Carlisle added an impressive 88 yards on 10 carries, and caught two passes for 31 yards and 1 TD. Senior RB Marc Tyler did not play (shoulder). The Trojans had 561 yards of total offense, converting 6-of-11 third downs and both fourth downs, and had only five penalties.
4. The USC defense bent but didn’t break, except for the first TD drive and one in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach. This bodes well for next season because there were so many young players on defense. The OL continued to improve, and the DL forced QB Tyler Hansen out of the pocket a number of times, but allowed him to scramble and failed to produce many sacks.
5. Special teams played well, including two blocked field goals (Rhett Ellison and Randall Telfer), punter Kyle Negrete averaged 47.7 yards on three punts, including two inside the five yard line, but Robert Woods had a 96-yard kickoff return TD called back due to holding by Tony Burnett.
Rhett Ellison and Curtis McNeal appeared to be injured again, and they will be needed for the next games.
Here are grades from ESPNLA’s Pedro Moura.
The Trojans host the Washington Huskies (6-2**) on Saturday, November 12. The homecoming game starts at 12:45 PM PT and will be broadcast on FX.
*Week 10 AP ranking
**Subject to the game against No. 8* Oregon on November 5.
P.S. USC has had the best college QBs during the past 10 years: As B/R reader Travis D pointed out, Denver Bronco’s Tim Tebow faces USC QBs in the next three NFL games: Oakland Raiders Carson Palmer (Heisman Trophy), Kansas City Chiefs Matt Cassell and New York Jets Mark Sanchez. No other college has three starting NFL QBs, and this doesn’t include Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart trying to work his way back on the Houston Texans or John David Booty who was 20-3 at USC. With Barkley ready to join the NFL, it is very clear that no other college has had better quarterbacks than USC during the past 10 years.