The No.22 USC Trojans squeaked by then-No.10 Arizona to propel them to first place in the PAC-12 South with tough contests highlighting the second half
The USC Trojans nearly faced yet another deflating loss as they watched another Arizona team make an improbable comeback.
But the Trojans came out victorious after Arizona kicker Casey Skowron pushed a 36-yard field goal wide right with 17 seconds left after a Steve Sarkisian timeout.
With that, USC escaped with a 28-26 road victory over No.10 Arizona and are right back in the PAC-12 race.
The Trojans (4-2, 3-1 Pac-12) bounce-back, albeit nail biting victory over the Wildcats (5-1, 2-1), propelled them back into first place in the PAC-12 South standings.
Now USC is in the driver’s seat to win the South with six games remaining. Southern California’s schedule doesn’t get any easier however with a couple tough road games ahead (10/25 at Utah, 11/1 at Washington State, and 11/22 at UCLA).
The Trojans begin their second half of regular season play hosting Colorado Buffaloes on homecoming Saturday at the Coliseum.
USC is unbeaten in this series (8-0) and has averaged 46.3 points in three meetings since Colorado joined the PAC-12.
The Trojans won the last meeting in Los Angeles, thrashing the Buffaloes 50-6 in 2012 and defeated them 47-29 in Boulder’s 29-degree weather with Javorius “Buck” Allen running 21 times for 145 yards and three touchdowns.
The Trojans possess a strong running game (four games with 200+ yards this season) led by Allen, who tops the PAC-12 with 130.2 YPG and averages 5.8 YPC.
He’s the first Trojan since Reggie Bush and LenDale White to post five 100-yard rushing games in a season.
Colorado (2-4, 0-3) doesn’t appear to have the players to slow down Allen and USC’s rushing attack, giving up a conference-worst 5.0 yards per carry and surrendering 169.8 rushing yards to opponents.
USC quarterback Cody Kessler has effectively managed the new up-tempo style by avoiding errors. He has 11 TD, 1 INT and a 69.1% completion rate through six games.
First-year Sarkisian and Kessler (right) are vying for more explosive plays. The next step is for the Trojans to take more cracks at longer passes and exploiting match-ups against a young Colorado secondary.
The Buffs have surrendered 11 passes of 30, 40 and 50 yards this year.
Colorado is coming off a bye week after a 36-31 loss to Oregon State. The Buffs have lost nine straight conference road games and are 2-13 in league road games since joining the PAC-12.
Colorado is 14th nationally in passing. Sophomore quarterback Sefo Liufau is in the top-11 in completions (188) completion percentage (65.3%), passing TD (19) and passing yards (1887).
Liufau’s main target is Nelson Spruce (left) who leads the country in receiving TD (10), receptions (62), and is fifth in receiving yards (732).
They will be going up against a very young secondary that could be without true freshman Adoree’ Jackson, who is nursing a hip flexor and groin injuries.
When Jackson and Kevon Seymour left Saturday’s game against Arizona, true freshmen cornerbacks Jonathan Lockett and John Plattenburg stepped in and gained significant experience. Both played well and could see more time against Colorado.
It is critical USC walks away from this game injury-free as they will have their toughest road challenge to date at Utah and the “The Mighty Utah Student Section” at Rice-Eccles Stadium, a building notorious for causing false starts.
The 20th-ranked Utes are the No. 1 team in sacks and tackles for a loss and have a stout special teams unit that might be the best in the country.
This will be a pivotal game that could decide the PAC-12 South champs and maybe a ticket to the Rose Bowl.
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