The Colorado Buffaloes went to the Coliseum ready for war on Saturday. They played hard, competed for 60 minutes, and came up one stop short from potentially another big road win in the 2016 season. The Buffaloes struggled in the trenches against a much bigger USC squad, and that, ultimately, led to a tough 21-17 loss, on a beautiful day in Los Angeles.
The Trojans were able to create pressure on redshirt freshman quarterback Steven Montez, and the Colorado offense never really got into a rhythm. On the other side of the ball, freshman QB Sam Darnold had all day to throw for USC, and he made the Buffaloes pay through the air, finishing 25/37 for 358 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Trojans jumped out to a 14-0 lead before Colorado’s offense showed any sign of life, converting a turnover into a 67-yard trick play for a touchdown to cut the lead to 14-7. Colorado pulled even early in the 4th quarter 14 all after Montez found wide receiver Bryce Bobo from 10 yards out. USC would answer, and take a 21-14 lead midway through the final quarter. Colorado would kick a field goal to pull within 21-17, but were unable to get a final stop to give their offense a chance to win the game.
The Buffaloes played tough on defense, forcing 4 Trojan turnovers to extend their streak to 19 straight games of forcing a turnover. Colorado stood toe to toe with a team littered with 5 star recruits on the road, and had a chance to win in the fourth quarter. With that being said, there are no more moral victories for the Buffaloes, nor can they feel sorry for themselves with a 5-1 Arizona State team coming to Boulder on Saturday.
Both teams have question marks at quarterback, but for completely different reasons. Colorado has two solid quarterbacks; the question is whether Sefo Liufau is healthy enough to play, or whether Steven Montez will make his fourth consecutive start. The injury bug has bitten ASU, starter Manny Wilkins suffered a high ankle sprain two weeks ago, forcing back up Brady White to start last Saturday against UCLA. White was injured in that game, and it was announced today that he would not return this season. The Sun Devils were forced to burn the redshirt of true freshman Dillon Sterling-Cole to finish the game. Coach Graham expects Wilkins to play on Saturday, but how effective can he be with an ankle that isn’t fully healed, and no practice time?
On the defensive side of the ball, Colorado will have to be able to handle the blitzing pressure of Arizona State. The defense wreaked havoc against UCLA on Saturday, and knocked Josh Rosen out of the game. If the offensive line can give the quarterback time, they’ll be able to exploit an unproven ASU secondary.
Boulder has been waiting for a big game to come to Folsom Field for years. A 5-1 Arizona State team with the winner being atop the PAC-12 South Division constitutes as a big game. With a 6:00 P.M. start, there will be a raucous crowd, and the players should have a chip on their shoulder after last week. Wilkins, will still be hampered by his ankle if he plays, and Colorado’s defense will force some big turnovers. Colorado 35-24.