Following the cancellation of CU’s Nov. 21 matchup against Arizona State, the 2-0 Buffs shifted their attention to the 3-0 No. 19 USC Trojans. Dating back to 1927, the Trojans are 14-0 against Colorado, a stat that weighed heavily on the Buffs this week.
“We had a team meeting on Saturday and I sat there and I addressed the guys and said ‘Hey look, this has never been done in Colorado history,’ and I paused and said ‘Let that sink in. We’ve never beat USC,’” said senior quarterback Sam Noyer. “You could see guys in their eyes, they were like ‘Wow, it’s time. We need to do this.’”
Head coach Karl Dorrell echoed a similar sentiment ahead of Saturday’s matchup in Los Angeles. A win for the Buffs would put them in prime position to win the Pac-12 South.
“I look forward to the opportunity that is in front of us,” Dorrell said. “We get a chance to continue to make strides of getting a win this weekend and keeping our hopes alive about being part of the conference talk. I think that’s really what our mindset is, not necessarily the historical significance. It is really what’s in front of us right now and the opportunity we have.”
A big key for the Buffs on Saturday will be the hopeful return to health for senior wide receiver KD Nixon, who hasn’t played a snap all season, and junior STAR Chris Miller, who missed Nov. 14’s game against Stanford.
On the USC side of the ball, it’s possible they will be out several key players. There are currently seven quarantining Trojans, including at least one starter according to Head coach Clay Helton.
Colorado’s defense will be going up against USC quarterback Kedon Slovis. Although he’s just a sophomore, Slovis boasts a 70.68 completion percentage this year and threw for over 3,500 yards last season. Buffs’ Defensive coordinator Tyson Summers will have a challenge to face on Saturday.
“I think he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the country,” Summers said. “Anytime you’re going two years in a row where you’ve got one of the highest completion percentages of anybody in the country because one, he really understands the offense, and two, he’s got a lot of trust and faith from his teammates and coaches.”
Miller’s potential return to the secondary and another big week from senior linebacker Nate Landman could be the Buffs’ best weapons to slow down Slovis.
Noyer and CU’s offense will line up against a Trojan defense that held Utah to 17 points last week. Sophomore linebacker Ralen Goforth had 12 tackles last week and USC recorded three interceptions and three sacks.
CU Offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini said that the Trojans excel in mixing up coverages between zone and man and aren’t afraid to pressure the quarterback. The Buffs’ offensive line will be tasked with keeping Noyer protected and opening up lanes for sophomore running back Jarek Broussard.
“They’re a talented team year in and year out and they’re talented again this year,” Chiaverini said.