Behind a slew of highlights by Drake London, USC defeats Colorado 37-14

USC wide receiver Drake London celebrates with running back Darwin Barlow and quarterback Kedon Slovis.
USC wide receiver Drake London (15) celebrates with running back Darwin Barlow (22) and quarterback Kedon Slovis after scoring a touchdown against Colorado on Saturday.
(Associated Press)

Drake London was a human highlight reel in USC’s victory over Colorado on Saturday, proving he’s one of the most dynamic playmakers in college football.

Drake London continues to amaze in USC’s dominant win over Colorado

Drake London strengthened his reputation as the nation’s most dangerous receiver, making several acrobatic, game-changing plays in USC’s surprisingly one-sided 37-14 win over Colorado on Saturday at Folsom Field in Boulder.

London made a leaping catch for a big gain on the Trojans’ first scoring drive and made a similarly athletic catch to set up another first-half score – his own on a one-handed catch in the end zone.

But he wasn’t done. London finished a 17-yard pass play by leaping over a defender, keeping his feet and driving for several more yards, setting up the Trojans with a first down at the Colorado eight as the third quarter came to an end.

London, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound junior from Moorpark High, finished with nine catches for 130 yards. He entered the game leading the nation with 540 yards and was tied for the lead with 39 receptions.

Credit quarterback Kedon Slovis with getting London the ball. Slovis completed 19 of 29 passes for 276 yards and three touchdowns. In addition to London’s score, Slovis found Michael Trigg on a 53-yard score and hit Gary Bryant Jr. from 17 yards.

USC improved to 3-2, rebounding from an embarrassing defeat at Oregon State a week ago.

The win improved USC to 15-0 against Colorado. Here’s a look at the series:

  • 2021 – USC 37 vs. Colorado 14
  • 2019 -- USC 35 vs. Colorado 31
  • 2018 -- USC 31 vs. Colorado 20
  • 2017 -- USC 38 vs. Colorado 24
  • 2016 -- USC 21 vs. Colorado 17
  • 2015 -- USC 27 vs. Colorado 24
  • 2014 – USC 56 vs. Colorado 14
  • 2013 – USC 47 vs. Colorado 29
  • 2012 – USC 50 vs. Colorado 6
  • 2011 – USC 42 vs. Colorado 17
  • 2002 – USC 40 vs. Colorado 3
  • 2000 – USC 17 vs. Colorado 14
  • 1964 – USC 21 vs. Colorado 0
  • 1963 – USC 14 vs. Colorado 0
  • 1927 – USC 46 vs. Colorado 7

Another highlight by Drake London sets up another USC touchdown

Outleaping defenders for long gains and making a one-handed touchdown catch apparently weren’t enough for USC wideout Drake London.

He finished a 17-yard pass play by leaping over a defender, keeping his feet and driving for several more yards, setting up the Trojans with a first down at the Colorado eight as the third quarter came to an end.

The play was set up by an interception by Trojan DB Joshua Jackson.

A touchdown run by Keaontay Ingram was nullified by a holding penalty and but USC extended its lead to 37-14 on 15-yard laser from Kedon Slovis to Gary Bryant Jr. less than a minute into the fourth quarter.


Colorado finally makes a play, cuts USC lead to 30-14

Colorado fans at Folsom Field finally had something to celebrate when quarterback Brendon Lewis had time, checked down, and hit tight end Brady Russell for a 65-yard catch-and-run that was by far the Buffaloes’ longest offensive play of the season.

Russell was brought down deep in Trojan territory, but Lewis hit Chase Penry from seven yards two plays later for a touchdown that cut the USC lead to 30-14 with 5:18 to play in the third quarter.


Keaontay Ingram gets in on the action, setting up another USC score with 53-yard run

Texas transfer Keaontay Ingram gave the Trojans a rushing highlight to match the dizzying aerial display, dashing through a gaping hole for a 53-yard run midway through the third quarter.

The play set up a two-yard scoring run by Vavae Malepeai that extended USC’s lead to 30-7.


USC linebacker Ralen Goforth ejected for targeting but Trojans extend lead to 23-7

USC linebacker Ralen Goforth was ejected for targeting after he hit Colorado quarterback Brendon Lewis while Lewis was sliding after a three-yard run two minutes into the second half.

Goforth, a junior from St. John Bosco High, had been having a solid game. He not only will miss the rest of this game, but by rule will be out for the first half of next week’s game as well.

The 15-yard penalty didn’t hurt the Trojans because linebacker Drake Jackson forced Lewis to fumble and recovered it a minute later, giving USC possession on the Colorado 29-yard line.

USC couldn’t move the ball but Parker Lewis kicked his second long field goal — this one from 49 yards — to extend the lead to 23-7.


Shutting down Colorado’s run game a key to USC’s dominant first half

USC held Colorado to 32 rushing yards in the first half. Because Buffaloes QB Brendon Lewis came in with the second worst passing efficiency number (89.85) in FBS, shutting down the run meant shutting down the offense.

And that’s exactly what happened until the last few minutes of the first half when Colorado turned a fumble recovery into a touchdown drive that included a 19-yard run by Jarek Broussard and a bruising 13-yard catch and run by tight end Brady Russell.

Until then, all the offense was generated by USC. Kedon Slovis had success throwing high passes that enabled his tall receivers to outleap defenders to make catches.

Drake London led the way, making seven catches for 109 yards and a touchdown. Slovis completed 14 of 20 passes for 220 yards in the half.

Colorado receives the kickoff to begin the second half.


Colorado generates offense on its sixth possession to cut deficit to 20-7 at halftime

In the most recent 11 quarters entering the game, Colorado had one touchdown, two field goals and nine drives that crossed midfield.

They did nothing to add to those meager totals until their last drive of the first half after recovering a USC fumble just inside the 50-yard line. Deion Smith scored a touchdown with 1:02 to play on a one-yard run to cut USC’s lead to 20-7.

Colorado’s first five drives resulted in only 45 yards. The scoring march chewed up 48 yards.


Trojans extend lead to 20-0 on a 44-yard field goal by Parker Lewis

USC continues to thwart Colorado’s offense by forcing repeated punts and the Trojans extended their lead to 20-0 midway through the second quarter on a 44-yard field goal by Parker Lewis.


USC’s Michael Trigg does a nice impression of Drake London on 46-yard TD catch

Freshman Michael Trigg outleaped Colorado’s Isaiah Lewis to make a catch that turned into a 46-yard touchdown and extended USC’s lead to 17-0 early in the second quarter.

Credit Kedon Slovis with making throws that only his tall receivers can reach. Trigg is 6-4 and Drake London, of course, is 6-5.


Drake London has very sticky fingers, catches TD pass with one hand

Drake London proved in the first quarter he is clearly the best football player on the field. His 32-year leaping catch led to a USC field goal, then with 1:59 to play in the quarter he made a one-handed catch for a touchdown and a 10-0 lead.

How did USC get inside the five-yard line to set up the score? Another spectacular catch by London, who outjumped the much shorter Colorado defender Christian Gonzalez for a 28-yard gain.

Another look at London’s catch that put the Trojans on the Colorado one-yard line:


Drake London makes key catch leading to a Trojans field goal and 3-0 lead.

Drake London, who entered the game accounting for 34.5% of the Trojans’ receptions and 43.8% of its receiving yards, made his first big catch against Colorado with seven minutes to play in the first quarter.

He leapt high to snag a throw from Kedon Slovis for a 32-yard gain that put the Trojans in the red zone. The drive stalled from there and USC settled for a field goal and a 3-0 lead.

London entered the game leading the nation after four games in receiving yards with 540. Meanwhile, Colorado had passed for only 340 yards — as a team.

The 6-foot-5, 210-pound London, who was tied for the national lead with 39 receptions, will be matched up against the Buffaloes’ biggest DB, Christian Gonzalez, or the more experienced Mekhi Blackmon. Or perhaps both.


USC vs. Colorado: College football betting picks, odds and analysis

USC Trojans quarterback Kedon Slovis is hit as he passes the ball
USC quarterback Kedon Slovis (9) gets sacked by Oregon State linebacker Riley Sharp (56) and gets called for “intentional grounding” in the Trojans’ 45-27 loss to Oregon State at the Coliseum on Sept. 25.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Maybe it was the firing of Clay Helton. Maybe it was the eye-opening performance from Jaxson Dart. Whatever it was that interrupted the status quo enough for USC to dominate Washington State on the road was simply not there against Oregon State. The Beavers won in the Coliseum for the first time since 1960 and put the Trojans’ bowl hopes in serious jeopardy.

USC is more than a touchdown favorite this week in Boulder for a bright and early 11 a.m. PT kickoff. This is basically a must-win game if the Trojans want to get to six wins, as there are three ranked teams left on the schedule, plus road games in Tempe and Berkeley. The only other obvious favorite role for the Trojans will be against Arizona on Oct. 30.

Does anybody trust USC to take care of business here?

USC Trojans (-7.5, 51) at Colorado Buffaloes

After scoring 35 points in the season opener against Northern Colorado, the Buffaloes have scored only 20 points in three games against FBS competition. That includes a shutout at the hands of a Minnesota team that just lost to Bowling Green as a 30-plus-point favorite.

By comparison, USC scored 27 points in last week’s losing effort against Oregon State. Kedon Slovis threw for 355 yards but also threw three interceptions, though two of them came in garbage time late in the fourth quarter. Even with the potency of the passing game, the inability to run the ball has USC 60th in the country at 5.89 yards per play.

Read more >>>


Late grandmother, NFL future power USC pass rusher Drake Jackson during ‘money year’

“Go get paid. Go get paid.”

As Drake Jackson burst around the edge two Saturdays ago, that message echoed through his mind. Here he was three games into a campaign he declared his “money year,” three weeks closer to his NFL future, and the talented Trojans pass rusher and possible top-10 draft pick had yet to record a sack.

Dating back to last season, it’d been six games since Jackson reached the quarterback. Over and over again, he’d come up just a half-yard short, a half-second slow — so close, coaches said, that there was little to criticize. It was only a matter of time, they assured.

Southern California linebacker Drake Jackson (99) celebrates after catching an interception.
USC linebacker Drake Jackson (99) celebrates after catching an interception against San Jose State on Sept. 4 in Los Angeles.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

Since he burst onto the scene as a freshman, Jackson has largely remained in that limbo, a half-step away from stardom. His extraordinary talent and tantalizing potential have kept him in the conversation as a top draft pick next spring. Despite tallying two sacks and 5.5 tackles for a loss last season, he was still named to the All-Pac-12 second team, partly in recognition of what he could accomplish at the height of his powers.

For long stretches, Jackson seemed unable to fully access them.

Those powers were clear the moment he left Washington State’s left tackle in his dust in Pullman, Wash., closing the gap and colliding with the Cougars’ quarterback. The ball squirted out, a fumble was recovered by USC in the end zone and soon the rout was on.

It was a big moment for Jackson and a weight lifted off the shoulders of a USC pass rush that ranks 121st in the Football Bowl Subdivision in sacks ahead of a trip to face Colorado this weekend. But for the Trojans’ star pass rusher, it still didn’t feel like enough.

Read more >>>


Could USC ever be coaching paradise for Luke Fickell and his proud Ohio family?

Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell celebrates with his wife, Amy, after a game against UCF at Nippert Stadium on Oct. 4, 2019.
(Joe Robbins / Getty Images)

CINCINNATI — To cap the day’s preparation for the biggest game of his coaching life, Luke Fickell sits surrounded by fans at his weekly radio show, filling them in on the Indiana win and the stakes of the battle to come.

“So who’s making the trip to South Bend?” asks Dan Hoard, the show’s host.

Most of the red-and-black clad attendees at the Original Montgomery Inn, “home of the world’s greatest ribs,” raise their hands. Seeing a moment for levity during a stressful week, Fickell quickly raises his, too, and the room booms with laughter.

There are so many other things Fickell could be doing right now, with a top-10 showdown against Notre Dame looming Saturday, but he doesn’t make this time feel like an obligation. During commercial breaks, he thumbs his phone looking for score updates on his daughter Luca’s high school volleyball match.

“Hey coach, did your daughter win?” a man asks, knowing the family rhythms.

Fickell flashes a thumbs up. “3-0,” he replies, nodding with a smile.

As he fields questions from the audience, Fickell’s two sets of twin boys, ages 13 and 7, walk into the restaurant, all decked out in football gear from practice. Fickell mentions to the crowd that during Cincinnati’s bye week he was able to see their seventh-eighth grade football game, a true treat.

“Coach, any good prospects in that game for your 2027 class?” a man asks.

Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner and coach Luke Fickell, right, prepare to lead the Bearcats onto the field
Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner and coach Luke Fickell, right, prepare to lead the Bearcats onto the field prior to playing Miami (Ohio) Sept. 4 in Cincinnati.
(Jeff Dean / Associated Press)

You assume the guy is joking — that he actually knows a coaching star like Fickell won’t be at Cincinnati six years from now — but then maybe these Bearcats supporters know something you don’t. Here, Fickell is the coach who stayed, putting an end to the three-and-out trend sparked by Mark Dantonio (to Michigan State), Brian Kelly (to Notre Dame) and Butch Jones (to Tennessee). In the past two years, Fickell already turned down serious advances from East Lansing and Knoxville.

But those assembled in this room also know his suitors will only get louder the more the Bearcats roar on the national stage. The current source of anxiety comes from out west, where a dormant blue-blood powerhouse is now looking for a head coach.

On the surface, USC and Fickell might not be an obvious match, but USC athletic director Mike Bohn is the man who gave Fickell his shot at Cincinnati. If Bohn comes calling again later this fall, Fickell would have the rare chance to take over a traditional top-five program with an administration that he already trusts backing him.

“I keep telling him that Cincinnati is not a destination, that you gotta move on from there,” says John Cooper, who coached Fickell at Ohio State in the 1990s. “I spent seven years in the Pac-10, and I personally think Southern Cal is the best coaching job in football. I’ve heard people say that Luke may not want to live in California, but to me it’s a no-brainer. I would go to Southern Cal in a heartbeat.”

That line of thinking is why Cincinnati fans panicked when Bohn fired Clay Helton. Trojans backers are convinced that the program went soft under Helton, and so a guy with Fickell’s profile — three-time state champion heavyweight wrestler, 50-game starter at nose guard for the Buckeyes, a man who defines himself and his teams on grit above all — is exactly what is needed to bring USC back to prominence.

Read more >>>


Kedon Slovis uneven in trying to keep his claim as USC’s starting QB

USC Trojans quarterback Kedon Slovis passes while playing the San Jose State Spartans.
USC quarterback Kedon Slovis scans the field and prepares to pass the ball against San Jose State on Sept 4 in Los Angeles.
(John McCoy / Associated Press)

Last week already started on a strange note for Kedon Slovis. Then, it ended on a sour one Saturday.

What began with a strained neck in Pullman, Wash., and an unexpected — albeit short-lived — competition at quarterback ended with Slovis, USC’s two-time All-Pac-12 incumbent, throwing his third interception of a miserable defeat, adding insult to a week defined, in some part, by injury.

Quarterback play was hardly the most pressing problem that presented itself during USC’s 45-27 loss to Oregon State.

But Slovis, just days after coaches declared a looming quarterback competition, didn’t exactly declare himself the answer at the position either.

Read more >>>