The Buffaloes again experienced a brutal loss at the hands of then No. 8 Oregon at Folsom Field last Saturday. Now ranked sixth in the nation, Oregon has an 8-1 record and 6-0 in Pac-12 play. The Buffs will face an equally challenging opponent this Friday when they travel to Southern California to play the No. 8 USC Trojans.
Colorado has already struggled immensely this season, and Oregon further revealed the troubles within the team. The offense struggled to hold its own throughout the entirety of the game. Sophomore quarterback JT Shrout had two interceptions in the third quarter and numerous botched snaps. Shrout has six interceptions this season, and CU experienced three turnovers against Oregon.
Defensively, the Buffs didn’t perform much better. The Buffs’ defense was no match for Oregon’s high-speed offense. Colorado allowed 49 points and lost by a 39-point margin, the second largest behind the Minnesota game this season. The performance against Oregon is the fourth time the Buffs have had their opponent win by 30 or more points this season.
Looking forward to this Friday, head coach Mike Sanford discussed his thoughts on the upcoming USC game.
“It’s going to be a tremendous challenge,” said Sanford. “The key for us is our preparation. We’re going to be ready for this game…Everybody’s not going to give us a chance, and we’re going to go in there with belief. And that’s what this week in our preparation has been about.”
The USC Trojans are 8-1 overall and 6-1 in conference play. The Buffaloes have faced the Trojans 15 times and have not come out victorious once. Colorado also faces a more significant challenge, Trojans’ quarterback Caleb Williams. Williams is in the running for the Heisman trophy with 2,742 yards, 28 touchdowns, and a 65 percent pass completion rate and is known for being a ‘second-play player.’ Williams often improvises and makes a play out of nothing, leaving the defense unprepared.
“There [are] times where it looks like he’s throwing the ball between his legs, behind his back,” Sanford said. “There’s a lot of stuff going on, a la Patrick Mahomes – it’s amazing that they have one turnover on the season.”
Sanford has freshman quarterback Owen McCown on the scout team to prepare the Buffs’ defense for Williams. Although McCown is not physically the same as Williams, McCown is doing his best to impersonate the star quarterback.
“The thing that’s great is Owen McCown is playing that scout role right now,” said Sanford. “Certainly physically, he’s not at the same spot that Caleb is, but just in terms of style of player and extending the plays, Owen really has challenged our defense a lot this week in just extending plays, understanding coverages and how you need to plaster.”
On top of having an elite quarterback, there are other star players the Buffs will have to face. USC defensive lineman Tuli Tuipuloto leads the nation in sacks with nine and is fourth in tackles. There will also be two former Buffaloes playing for USC. Former CU wide receiver Brendan Rice currently sits fourth on the team for catches, and cornerback Mekhi Blackmon has 38 tackles and two interceptions.
In two weeks, USC will be the second top-ten team to challenge Colorado’s defense. Offensively, Caleb Williams is a threat, and CU’s defense preparation for his off-scheduled plays will be critical.
Kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m. at the LA Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California, and will be televised on Fox Sports.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Malaina Humphreys at Malaina.Humphreys@colorado.edu.