USC dominates Colorado, but Travis Dye is expected to miss remainder of season
The final dress rehearsal was dragging, the last kinks still being ironed out ahead of next week’s consequential crosstown showdown, when Tuli Tuipulotu burst around the edge and closed the curtains on Colorado himself.
Little about the past month, outside of the No. 8 affixed next to its name, had suggested USC was ready for the bright lights and the big expectations that awaited next week at the Rose Bowl. In consecutive games, California and Arizona had pushed the Trojans to the brink. Now Colorado, a Pac-12 doormat and one of the worst teams in college football, was pushing them around, too.
It wasn’t until Tuipulotu forced his way into a collapsing pocket early in Friday’s second quarter and flung the football loose that USC found it could push back. It kept pushing and pushing and pushing from there, until its backups applied one final shove for good measure in a 55-17 victory.
Darwin Barlow finishes USC’s blowout victory with touchdown
Darwin Barlow got buried in the depth chart when Travis Dye and Austin Jones transferred in and Raleek Brown signed with USC, but the former Texas Christian running back got to join the backfield party in the fourth quarter of this blowout with a three-yard touchdown rush to put the finishing touches on USC’s 55-17 win over Colorado.
Barlow finished with 41 yards on five carries as USC racked up 531 yards on the Buffaloes despite losing Dye to a lower leg injury in the first half.
The Trojans turned to Jones in Dye’s absence, and the Stanford transfer delivered by leading the team in rushing and receiving. He had 74 rushing yards on 11 carries with a team-high four catches for 39 yards and one touchdown.
Caleb Williams accounted for five touchdowns for the fourth consecutive game, throwing for three touchdowns and 268 yards while adding two more scores on the ground. Kyle Ford led the Trojans with 73 receiving yards on three catches.
Tuli Tuipulotu had 2.5 sacks, a pass breakup and one forced fumble, all in the first half.
Twist and Shrout
Colorado quarterback J.T. Shrout rushed around the left side and past USC’s Tausivi Nomura for an eight-yard touchdown with 7:22 remaining in the fourth quarter.
USC still leads 48-17. While the game is out of reach on the scoreboard, there are likely several people sweating out the ending: USC was favored by 34.5 points.
Raleek Brown stretches USC’s lead
Different players, same result for USC as the Trojans are beginning to dig deeper in their bench against Colorado.
Raleek Brown scored off a swing pass from Miller Moss to put the Trojans up 48-10 with 11:34 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Moss completed both of his pass attempts on the drive, totaling 38 yards, including the 25-yard touchdown pass. It was Moss’ first touchdown pass of the year and the second of his career.
Miller Moss in at quarterback with USC’s big lead
Caleb Williams’ night is done with a 41-10 lead with 14:08 remaining in the fourth quarter.
After Colorado punted during its first possession of the fourth quarter, USC backup quarterback Miller Moss started warming up on the sideline.
Williams finishes the game with 268 passing yards and three touchdowns on 14-of-26 passing. He also threw his second interception of the night and added two rushing touchdowns. He has accounted for five total touchdowns in four consecutive games.
Austin Jones steps right up
Remember Austin Jones?
The Stanford transfer had 110 rushing yards against Fresno State earlier this season but fell out of the rotation as Travis Dye emerged as USC’s workhorse. Now with Dye on the sideline on crutches, Jones is back in the spotlight and making the most of it.
The Stanford running back took a short flip pass from Caleb Williams, cut inside around a defenders then leaped over another into the end zone to put USC ahead 41-10 at the end of the third quarter.
Jones has a team-high four catches for 39 yards and one touchdown to go with 74 rushing yards on 11 carries. It was his first touchdown since Sept. 17.
Williams is 14-for-26 for 268 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
Calen Bullock secures USC’s second takeaway
USC isn’t letting up against Colorado.
One play after scoring a two-point conversion on a fake extra-point attempt, USC got the ball back via an interception by Calen Bullock. The safety has four interceptions this season as USC notched its second takeaway of the game after a strip sack and recovery in the first half.
The Trojans lead 34-10 with 3:07 remaining in the third quarter.
Tahj Washington dodges defenders en route to end zone
The only thing better than Tahj Washington’s 61-yard touchdown run during which he ran through a tackle and turned on the afterburners to leave two more defenders in the dust was USC’s fake PAT attempt that stretched the Trojans’ lead to 34-10 with 4:50 remaining in the third quarter.
After Washington’s electric touchdown run, USC pulled out a trick play for the extra point, snapping the ball to holder Will Rose, who ran into the end zone untouched.
Rose, the team’s backup punter, capped the score with a standing back flip.
Colorado scores first touchdown in third quarter
USC turned the ball over on downs on its first possession after Caleb Williams was sacked on fourth down and Colorado turned a short field into its first touchdown of the night.
Alex Fontenot’s three-yard touchdown puts the Buffaloes down 26-10 with 5:49 remaining in the third quarter.
Fontenot carried the ball on seven of Colorado’s nine plays on the 53-yard touchdown drive, highlighted by a 27-yard carry. The running back has 103 yards and one touchdown on 18 carries.
USC has given up three sacks to Colorado, which entered the game with just six sacks, the fewest in the country.
Injuries piling up for USC as second half begins
Defensive back Max Williams emerged from the locker room in street clothes and dark sunglasses after suffering an injury in the first quarter. The Trojans are now down their starting running back and a starting defensive back.
The Trojans, who have a 26-3 lead over Colorado going into the second half, likely won’t be bothered against the overmatched Buffaloes, they could also be thinking about next weekend’s rivalry matchup against UCLA.
USC stretches first-half lead with late field goal
It took one quarter, but USC finally found is rhythm.
After eight yards in the first quarter, USC finished the half with 209 compared to Colorado’s 100 and leads 26-3.
Denis Lynch tacked on a 34-yard field goal with two seconds remaining after Caleb Williams’ third-down throw to Terrell Bynum was broken up by Nikko Reed. Reed even had a chance to intercept the pass.
Williams is 11-for-21 for 184 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
USC is without running back Travis Dye, who was carted off the field in the second quarter. After Dye’s 26 yards on nine carries, the Trojans have Austin Jones, who has eight yards on two carries.
Kyle Ford leads USC’s receivers with 73 yards on three catches. Brenden Rice has 70 yards and one touchdown with three catches.
Tuli Tuipulotu is pacing the defense with three tackles, 2.5 sacks, one pass breakup and one forced fumble.
Brenden Rice revenge game
A touchdown from Brenden Rice helped lift USC’s spirits after Travis Dye’s injury as the Trojans stretched their lead to 23-3 with 1:58 remaining in the second quarter.
Rice, who transfered from Colorado, scored off a 32-yard pass from Caleb Williams.
Playing against his former team, Rice has been busy in the first half. He has a team-high five targets for two catches and 41 yards. This is his second touchdown catch of the season.
Travis Dye injured late in second quarter
USC’s leading rusher Travis Dye was carted off the field with a left leg injury at the 2:44 mark of the second quarter.
Dye’s leg got caught under him while Colorado players were attempting to pull him to the ground and the Oregon transfer immediately grabbed at his left leg. Teammates on the sideline all took a knee as trainers attended to the running back. Quarterback Caleb Williams, running back Austin Jones and coach Lincoln Riley were among those hunched close to Dye on the field as trainers put an air cast on his leg and carried him onto the cart. As trainers helped Dye get onto the back of the injury cart, the whole USC team gathered around him along with several Colorado players.
As the cart drove off the field, Dye flashed a thumbs up and USC’s victory sign.
Dye has 26 yards and nine carries tonight. He entered the game with a team-high 858 yards and nine touchdowns on 136 carries.
Forced fumble sets USC offense up for second touchdown
Here come the Trojans.
One play after Korey Foreman pulled Colorado’s J.T. Shrout down for a six-yard loss, the USC pass rush got home again for a strip sack on the Colorado quarterback to take over at the Colorado eight-yard line.
Tuli Tuipulotu stripped the ball and Stanley Ta’ufo’ou recovered it, allowing Caleb Williams to score two plays later on a four-yard touchdown run.
USC leads 16-3 with 7:55 remaining in the second quarter.
Tuipulotu is starring early with 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a pass breakup.
Caleb Williams finally gets USC offense going
Taking two steps forward and one step back still led USC into the end zone for the first time tonight as Caleb Williams scored USC’s first touchdown with 10:09 remaining in the second quarter.
Williams faked the handoff to Travis Dye and kept the ball for a two-yard touchdown run to put USC up 9-3.
After a dismal first quarter, USC’s offense found momentum with big completions of 24 and 42 yards from Williams to Kyle Ford on the drive. But they also lost 13 yards when Williams fumbled a snap and were called for offensive pass interference that wiped away an eight-yard completion to Terrell Bynum.
A penalty on Colorado helped put USC in position to score as a third-down pass interference call in the end zone put the Trojans at the two-yard line.
Williams is five-for-11 for 91 yards and one interception.
USC’s first quarter to forget
After one quarter, USC trails 3-2 and has just eight yards.
The Trojans needed an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone to earn their only points of the game and have punted twice and turned the ball over once.
Caleb Williams is one-for-six for two yards and one interception. Travis Dye has 15 yards on five carries.
Colorado’s J.T. Shrout is two-for-five for 20 yards. Alex Fontenot leads the Buffaloes with 56 rushing yards on nine carries.
One bright spot for USC is Tuli Tuipulotu, who recorded his 10th sack on the year in the first quarter. The nation’s leader in sacks is the first USC player to reach double-digit sacks in a season since Rasheem Green in 2017.
Colorado settles for field goal
Colorado is outplaying USC on both sides of the ball, but instead of going for an aggressive fourth down in the red zone, the Buffaloes settled for a short field goal to take a 3-2 lead with 1:24 remaining in the first quarter.
The Buffaloes, the worst offense in the Pac-12, is averaging 3.6 yards per play compared to USC’s 0.7, but still played it safe on fourth-and-two from USC’s 10-yard line.
Colorado nearly converted on third-and-six from its 36-yard line, but an acrobatic complete pass to Montana Lemonious-Craig was reversed to an incompletion upon review. USC was then called offside on the Colorado punt, which gave the Buffaloes a chance to line up on fourth-and-one from their own 41-yard line. Alex Fontenot converted the chance with a four-yard rush to keep the Buffaloes on the field.
Pac-12 after dark mode is fully engaged.
We’ve had a drone delay at the Coliseum and now we have a safety as Colorado’s J.T. Shrout was called for intentional grounding in the end zone.
Despite turning the ball over just one play before, the Trojans now lead 2-0 with 7:18 remaining in the first quarter.
Colorado picks off Caleb Williams
Nikko Reed wrestled a ball away from USC’s Brenden Rice and saddled Caleb Williams with his second interception of the year.
Williams underthrew Rice slightly, allowing Reed to get in position to snag the ball in front of his former Colorado teammate. Reed was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the play and the Buffaloes will start at their own 12-yard line.
The vaunted USC offense that was cited as a primary reason the Trojans stayed in the top 10 in the College Football Playoff rankings while UCLA stayed at No. 12 has 12 yards on two possessions. Williams is one-for-five for two yards and one interception.
Mario Williams is out after all
Although he warmed up in pads, Mario Williams is standing on the sideline in a black hoodie under his No. 4 jersey. The receiver was considered a “game-time decision” this week.
Jordan Addison did make his return, catching a pass for two yards on USC’s first offensive possession. But the Trojans went three-and-out and punted back to Colorado, which also punted on its first possession.
Redshirt freshman Mason Murphy stayed in the starting lineup at left tackle in place of Bobby Haskins.
USC starts on defense against Colorado
Hello, this is Thuc Nhi Nguyen, I will be your live blog driver for tonight’s game between USC and Colorado at the Coliseum. I’m joined in the press box with USC beat writer Ryan Kartje and columnist Helene Elliott.
The No. 8 Trojans moved up one spot in the College Football Playoff rankings despite a lackluster performance against California last week. USC gave up 469 yards to the Bears, who entered the game ranked 11th in the Pac-12 in total yardage. The Trojans (8-1, 6-1 Pac-12) allowed 7.19 yards per play in the past three games against Utah, Arizona and Cal.
USC’s defense will start on the field after Colorado won the toss and elected to receive. The Buffaloes (1-8, 1-5 Pac-12) are the Pac-12’s worst offense, averaging 15.56 points and 303.11 yards per game.
Special teams coordinator? Lincoln Riley doesn’t believe in a dedicated one for USC
It was already an eventful evening for USC’s special teams when, with 13 minutes remaining last Saturday against California, a surprise onside kick dribbled between receivers Brenden Rice and Kyron Hudson on the frontline of USC’s return team.
The Trojans had previously botched an extra point on a bad snap, and handed over prime field position due to poor punting. Now, the onside attempt bounced off Rice’s hand, slipped past Hudson and was recovered by the Bears. Cal scored soon after, cutting USC’s lead to seven.
It was a critical moment for USC’s special teams. But on the Trojans sideline, the man technically tasked with coordinating those special teams was limited in his ability to address it. That’s because NCAA rules bar Ryan Doughtery from doing any actual, on-field coaching.
Jordan Addison, Mario Williams ready to return
Wide receivers Jordan Addison and Mario Williams appear to be on track to return for tonight’s game against Colorado.
The duo missed the last two games with injuries. Addison suffered a leg injury against Utah while Williams’ injury was undisclosed.
Addison leads the team in catches (39), receiving yards (585) and touchdowns (seven). Williams ranks second on the team with 493 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 26 catches.
While the Trojans are getting reinforcements on offense, linebacker Eric Gentry doesn’t appear to be returning tonight. The starting middle linebacker was not dressed in pads during warmups.
USC strength coach Bennie Wylie teaching players toughness through life lessons
Everything Bennie Wylie would ever learn about toughness, every lesson he would one day try to pass down as USC strength and conditioning coach, started first with his mother.
Velvia Wylie was always grinding, working as many as three jobs in their small town of Mexia, Texas, just to make ends meet. Whatever it took to care for her three kids, whatever it took to protect them, she did without hesitation. She never complained either. Barely even raised her voice. “I never heard her use a cuss word my whole life,” Wylie says.
Everything would be OK, she always assured her youngest son, even when it wasn’t clear it would be. “She was an angel who walked the earth,” Wylie says now.
USC vs. Colorado: Betting odds, lines and picks against the spread
USC is No. 8 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings and hopes to have a path to the “Final Four” if they can beat No. 12 UCLA, No. 20 Notre Dame and then potentially No. 6 Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game on Friday, Dec. 2, in Las Vegas.
But first the Trojans must take care of business (and “style points” wouldn’t hurt) against Colorado as they’ll rely on quarterback Caleb Williams (2,742 passing yards, 28 TDs, just 1 INT). Williams is the fourth betting choice in DraftKings’ Heisman Trophy odds at 9-1.