Caleb Williams threw for 268 yards and totaled five touchdowns as USC waltzed to a 55-17 win over Colorado on Friday night.
The Trojans didn’t have it easy in the first quarter. The Buffs defense held them for just eight total yards in 10 games, including an interception by Nikko Reed. CU took a 3-2 lead by the end of the first quarter with a 28-yard field goal from Cole Becker. From that point on, however, USC could not stop the points rush.
Williams built a 72-yard, 12-play drive and called his own number for a 2-yard rushing touchdown that gave USC a 9-3 lead early in the 2nd quarter. The first of three goals the Oklahoma transfer was responsible for before halftime.
Unlucky for JT Shrout, who couldn’t move the ball in the right direction. A fumble by the Buffs QB set Williams up for a walkable touchdown from four yards and increased USC’s lead to 16-3 midway through the second quarter. The Buffs’ subsequent drive faltered before Williams linked up with former CU star Brenden Rice for a 32-yard touchdown strike. The second win of the season for Rice, who came to Southern Cal through the transfer portal as one of the seven offensive starters.
USC flipped a switch in the second quarter. 209 total yards and 6-of-9 on third down conversions before halftime with 24 points unanswered. Williams had to rely on a rushing attack minus Travis Dye in the final half. The Oregon transfer went down in the 2nd quarter with a serious leg injury and did not return. A major blow to the Trojans as Dye neared his second straight 1,000-yard season.
“It shook us all a little bit,” USC coach Lincoln Riley said of Dye’s injury after the game. “He’s such an emotional leader. It sucks. It can not be said otherwise”,
The Buffs scored their first touchdown of the game with 5:49 left in the 3rd quarter. A 9-play, 53-yard drive ended with a 3-yard TD run by Alex Fontenot, stopping the bleed to pull CU back to a two-point lead. However, USC added another 21 unanswered points on three drives for 60 yards each.
Tahj Washington turned on the Jets for a 61-yard catch and ran away from Williams. The longest reception of Washington’s tenure in the Trojans’ uniform, having spent his first two years in Memphis. It was also the second scoring throw for the Trojans QB that night. Williams left the game after a 12-yard touchdown throw against Austin Jones, who gave USC a 34-10 lead after a failed 2-point conversion in the last minute of the 3rd quarter.
Shrout charged into the end zone from eight yards on the Buffs’ next drive. First career rushing TD for Buff’s QB, who went 11 of 21 for 124 yards without a touchdown throw and an interception. Shrout also failed to complete at least 60 percent of his passes for the seventh time this season.
USC would add two points after Williams was drawn. A 25-yard TD reception for Raleek Brown from backup QB Miller Moss gave the Trojans a 48-17 lead. All ahead of a 3-yard run by Darwin Barlow for the 55-17 final.
Colorado is winless in sixteen tries against USC. One of the last chances for the Buffs to anger the Trojans who will migrate to Big Ten in 2024. The 55 points scored by the Trojans is the second-highest in series history. One point behind the 56-28 final of 2014 and also for the sixth time USC has scored at least 40 points for the Buffs.
Colorado (1-9) sweeps up the Pacific Coast to take on No. 25 Washington. The third straight opponent for the Buffs before a Rumble in the Rockies final with No. 13 Utah. Not a smooth road ahead as USC’s only loss came a month ago at Rice-Eccles Stadium to the Utes.
The Trojans (9-1) are on course to meet No. 6 Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game. Not an easy task as they face No. 12 UCLA and No. 20 Notre Dame to complete the regular season. If USC can survive the next two games and win a conference title, they’re in prime position for a first-ever college football playoff bid.