USC puts another win on ice for Ed Orgeron, 47-29 at frigid Colorado

BOULDER, Colo. — One unlikely dream scenario for USC ended, but another remained very much alive on Saturday night.

The No. 23 Trojans' 47-29 victory over Colorado at chilly Folsom Field extended their winning streak to five games and increased the momentum for interim Coach Ed Orgeron's bid to become USC's permanent head coach.

Tailback Javorius Allen rushed for three touchdowns, quarterback Cody Kessler passed for two scores and the defense forced two turnovers as USC improved to 9-3 overall and 6-2 in the Pac-12 Conference.

The Trojans are now 6-1 under the fiery Orgeron, who is a semifinalist for a national coach-of-the-year award, the subject of a tribute song by former UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel and the absolute darling of USC players and fans.

The Trojans are ready for next Saturday's game against rival UCLA at the Coliseum.

"We know we're going to take care of business," Orgeron said, "and we understand the task at hand."

USC went into the game needing victories over Colorado and UCLA, and two losses by Arizona State, to win the Pac-12 South division and advance to the conference title game, which would have had the Trojans hosting North champion Stanford.

But Arizona State defeated UCLA, 38-33, ending that possibility.

Not that the Trojans or Orgeron minded.

USC is on a roll going into the UCLA game and the Coliseum will no doubt be rocking with chants for Orgeron.

"I'm ready," Kessler said. "This game, this is what you play at USC for. . . . This is a huge week and this week cannot be understated so we're excited."

On Saturday, with the temperature 29 degrees at kickoff and All-American receiver Marqise Lee at home rehabilitating an injured shin, the Trojans did not miss a beat, rolling up 449 yards.

Kessler, who raised his level of play in last week's 20-17 upset of Stanford, played almost error free again. The third-year sophomore completed 19 of 28 passes for 184 yards in just more than three quarters. He utilized eight receivers and leaned heavily on tight ends Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer.

During a late drive in the first half, Kessler completed seven of eight passes, including a 20-yard touchdown to Nelson Agholor.

Allen, who was limited to 26 yards rushing against Stanford, ran for 145 in 21 carries and scored on runs of 12, one and 23 yards. He also had an apparent 66-yard touchdown nullified by a holding penalty. The third-year sophomore from Florida had three touchdowns for the third time in four games.

Meanwhile, the defense neutralized Colorado star receiver Paul Richardson and recorded two sacks.

Colorado scored its first points early in the third quarter when safety Jered Bell returned a fumble by Allen for a touchdown.

Safety Dion Bailey intercepted a pass and defensive end Leonard Williams forced a fumble to set up second-quarter touchdowns that helped the Trojans take a 23-0 halftime lead.

Williams, who has been nursing a shoulder injury, sacked Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau with 7:22 left in the first half and end George Uko recovered the ball for the Trojans. Allen scored five plays later.

Bailey, who had a key interception last week against Stanford, picked off a Liufau pass with 2:34 left in the second quarter. The play set up Kessler's touchdown pass to Agholor for a 23-0 lead.

The Buffaloes scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns against reserves before USC fullback Soma Vainuku broke off a 52-yard touchdown run.

So now comes UCLA.

"It's perfect," Grimble said. "It played out exactly how we wanted it. When Coach O took over, he told us, 'It's a new season and we're going to play hard every game.' And that's what we did.

"We have one loss [against Notre Dame] and we've got a lot of momentum going into UCLA. I'm really excited. I can't wait."

Last year, the Bruins defeated USC, 38-28, at the Rose Bowl. It was one of five defeats the Trojans suffered in their last six games, including a season-ending loss to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl.

USC is hoping for a result more along the lines of the last time it hosted the Bruins. In 2011, the Trojans routed UCLA, 50-0, at the Coliseum to complete a 10-2 season.

"I never would have thought the situation would be the way it is," senior associate athletic director J.K. McKay said in the waning moments Saturday, referring to next week's game.

Asked about Orgeron's situation, he smiled and jogged away to join players and coaches.

When the game ended, he was caught up in the moment, playfully putting his hands above his head, signaling "O."

Twitter: @latimesklein

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