Southern California has been a bedrock program for decades, but after last Saturday’s surprising loss to Oregon State, the Trojans look like a team in disarray.
They fired their coach, Clay Helton, after two games because things were going in the wrong direction. Interim coach Donte Williams may be feeling the heat after the blowout loss at home to the Beavers, but he can turn down the temperature on Saturday when USC plays Colorado in Boulder.
The Trojans (2-2, 1-2 Pac-12) had not lost at home to Oregon State since 1960, and this game wasn’t even close. USC trailed by 25 in the fourth quarter and some thought the team quit, but Williams said Sunday he saw his club was playing hard in the fourth quarter.
Williams also vowed to turn things around.
“It will all get fixed,” he said. “I promise you that.”
Playing a scuffling Buffaloes team might help. Colorado (1-3, 0-1) has lost three straight since winning its opener, and the last two games haven’t been competitive. The Buffaloes have been outscored 65-13 by Minnesota and Arizona State.
While the offense is sputtering, Colorado’s defense will get a boost this week with the return of Mustafa Johnson. The defensive lineman put his name in for the 2021 NFL Draft but wasn’t picked and he didn’t find a team through free agency, so he applied for a waiver that the NCAA granted.
“He gives us a veteran presence in the defensive front,” Buffaloes coach Karl Dorrell said. “He’s excited to play and obviously he feels it was a blessing to get another opportunity to play. He’ll be a good veteran piece for us defensively.”
The defense has played relatively well while the offense has sputtered. Colorado has scored 20 points in its last three games after putting up 35 in its opener. Freshman quarterback Brandon Lewis has struggled against FBS opponents and the team is averaging just 239 yards of offense per game, ranked 128th in the nation out of 130 FBS teams.
The Buffaloes may have a chance to get the offense rolling Saturday. The USC defense is allowing 391.2 yards per game and has given up an average of 33.7 points over its last three.
The Trojans are 14-0 all-time against Colorado. The last time the teams met, in Boulder in 2019, the Buffaloes held a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter before USC won 35-31.
–Field Level Media