A fast start quickly turned to a long plummet.
After scoring an early touchdown, the Buffs caved in to talented USC, 42-17, under the beaming lights of a black-washed Folsom Field.
“The problem was there’s about 57 minutes left,” said head coach Jon Embree. “I knew seven points wasn’t going to be enough.”
USC’s loaded passing attack abused a wounded Buffs defense in a mismatched showcase of speed. Quarterback Matt Barkley set a USC school-record as he tossed six touchdowns.
The herd kept pace in the first quarter, but quickly fell behind once Barkley and his receivers started picking off a secondary burdened by injury. This game was like watching a video where a lion waits under tall grass before striking a slow and helpless prey.
“Our receiver core was much better than their secondary,” said Barkley, who could be a first round pick in next April’s NFL draft. “We were all over the place.”
Receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee combined for 254 yards and four touchdowns, taking advantage of CU corners Travis Sandersfeld and D.D. Goodson. Safety Kyle Washington left with an injury and did not return, taking away from an already depleted unit.
“In the end, they just wore us down,” Embree said. “We had to shuffle the secondary again. It doesn’t get any easier.”
A current seven-game losing streak underscores the Buffs 1-9 record.
CU senior Toney Clemons grabbed his first career 100-yard game with five catches for 112 yards, adding a pair of touchdowns. Though this senior class will end it’s tenure without once making the postseason, Clemons said they are still trying to plant some momentum in the program for future seasons.
“We are determined as a senior class to go out there and leave our legacy,” Clemons said. “I have faith in what’s going to transpire.”
The early 7-0 lead was the only time this season CU has been ahead since an Oct. 1 defeat to Washington State. That is nearly four hours of game time in which CU trailed opponents. You could watch a Ken Burns documentary, paint a self-portrait, and still have enough time for a jog. All CU did was spend the time separating itself from the Pac-12, running in the opposite direction.
The Buffs remain in last place, sporting a hopeless 0-6 conference record.
Offensive CU staples Rodney Stewart and Paul Richardson returned from injuries and their rust showed during the opening half. Stewart dusted off his cobwebs to gain 155 total yards, surpassing his offensive coach Eric Bienemy as CU’s leader in all-purpose yardage.
But in the red zone, the Buffs threw away numerous scoring chances. Freshman kicker Will Oliver saw two of his field goal attempts get knocked back in his face by a huge USC front.
“Today we just left too many points on the board,” said quarterback Tyler Hansen. “We had some missed opportunities. It’s the same story as last weekend.”
Finishing 17-for-37, Hansen had the accuracy of a shaky Uzi gun, spraying balls every which way. Still, he drove his team into Trojan territory with regularity.
The offense tacked 384 yards against the Trojan defenders, in avoiding any turnovers.
Next weekend the seniors wrap up their playing careers at Folsom Field against 2-6 Arizona. They have gone winless at home this year.
“If this team is going to win, it has to start from the top,” Embree said. “We have to expect it.”
Statistics courtesy of CUBuffs.com.
Contact CU Independent Sports Editor Michael Kurmholtz at Michael.email@example.com.