McGillen Galleries: USC vs. Colorado

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John McGillen was camped out in the end zone to catch the touchdown carousel at the Coliseum as the Trojans hung 56 on the scoreboard.

Here are the photos from pregame, first half and second half:

6-Points: USC 56, Colorado 28

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Cody Kessler's record-setting night highlighted an all-around dominant Homecoming performance by the Trojans.

Click here for the recap and final stats.

Click here for the post-game press conference.

Final-colorado-score.jpgSeventh Heaven

USC has had some legendary quarterbacks including two Heisman Trophy winners, but Cody Kessler stands alone as the only Trojan to throw seven touchdown passes in a single game.  "It's awesome. It is a really cool feeling," Kessler said. "With all the quarterbacks that have come before me, it is a huge honor. They set the bar so high, and I am just proud to be in the same category with those guys."  The junior finished another remarkably efficient night 19/26 for 319 yards and 0 INTs.  He now has 18 TD passes on the season to only one interception. "It is an amazing thing. Cody deserves that," said WR Nelson Agholor, who caught three of the seven.

Lift the Lid

Kessler's big night came at the urging of head coach Steve Sarkisian who has been pushing his quarterback to be more aggressive down the field. "I've been banging the explosive play drum here for about three or four weeks," said Sarkisian. "Cody's belief in the guys tonight was excellent. He anticipated throws down the field. He threw when guys were covered one-on-one, but trusted them to make the plays." Agholor was the primary beneficiary catching 6 passes for a season-high 128 yards and 3 TDs, including a 75-yarder.  "We have to win our one-on-ones," explained Agholor. "Explosive plays, that's what it's all about. If a team dares to play you man, you have to win."

A Second Option

While Agholor is the clear go-to guy in the USC passing game, JuJu Smith is starting to fill the void as the second dependable weapon through the air.  He made 4 catches for 104 yards and his first career TD despite a bad thumb. He even reeled in a remarkable one-handed catch with his banged up hand. "He was tremendous," Sarkisian praised. "That's what is great about this team is we are really starting to understand to give yourself up for the team and to play as a team, and JuJu's performance exemplifies that."

Front Force

In Pac-12 play, the Trojans' defense has stuffed some of the best run offenses in the country including Stanford, Arizona and Arizona State thanks to a powerful front seven. "It is a mindset for the front seven," said LB Anthony Sarao, who had a team-high 12 tackles. "There's no special calls. We just had to take it on and show people that we can stop the run."  The usual suspects like Leonard Williams and Hayes Pullard are starting to get some help from emerging youngsters like DT Claude Pelon and DE Greg Townsend, who each had sacks. "It all starts up front. It has to start with limiting the run game," said Sarkisian, who is already thinking about Utah. "It is going to be huge next Saturday night. We're going to need a great performance out of our defensive front."

Practicing the Finish

After letting late leads slip away against Arizona State and almost Arizona, Sarkisian pushed his defensive starters into the fourth quarter despite tonight's insurmountable margin. "The past two weeks, our fourth quarter defense has not been good at all, so Coach Sark let us know that we have to finish this game," said Sarao. "He'll handle all the questions about running up the score. We had to come out and finish no matter what it was going to be." Sarkisian explained, "We're going to be in dogfights. We're probably going to be in one next Saturday night in Utah, and we need to understand physically and mentally the toll of a four quarter game and how to play a four quarter game."

Ready for Midterms

After the Boston College loss, the young offensive line went back to school, and the unit has improved every game since.  They paved the way for 213 more rushing yards and provided a pocket for Kessler's record-setting performance.  Next week, the offensive line will get the ultimate midseason test against one of the best front seven's in the country.  "They are a very aggressive defense, and very aggressive up front with a great pass rusher in Nate Orchard," Sarkisian provided the early scouting report.  Utah averages 5.5 sacks per game, which is 1.5 more than any other team in the country.

Here are tonight's SnappyTV highlights...

Infographic: USC 56, Colorado 28

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Rapid Reaction: USC 56, Colorado 28

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Right after the final whistle, here's what LB Anthony Sarao, WR Steven Mitchell, RB Buck Allen, TE Bryce Dixon and CB Kevon Seymour had to say about the Homecoming victory:

2014: Colorado Friday Night Video

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On the heels of a Top-10 upset, USC looks to make a statement against Colorado in front of the Trojan Family at today's Homecoming game. Relive the excitement of last Saturday's battle in the desert in this week's Friday Night Video...

2014 Game 7: USC vs. Colorado

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Colorado Buffaloes (2-4, 0-3) at No. 22 USC Trojans (4-2, 3-1)

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum at 3 p.m. PT on Pac-12 Networks

Buffalo to Watch: Junior WR Nelson Spruce

spruce.jpgFor the third consecutive week, the Trojans' secondary will be tasked with marking one of the nation's best receivers.  Spruce is the most active pass catcher in the nation with 62 receptions.  He also tied for the FBS lead with 10 touchdown grabs.  The Los Angeles product will be making his own Homecoming this weekend, so look for QB Sefo Liufau to target him frequently.

Click here for more on the Buffs.

3 Keys

Second Option

Buck Allen is the identity of this Trojans' offense, but with Tre Madden done for the year, USC cannot afford to run him into the ground.  Justin Davis has been effective at times, but he could use a breakout game to boost his confidence.  He admitted that the comeback from last season's injury has been a slow struggle, but he is feeling healthy and regaining his spark.  Colorado allows 5.7 yards per carry within the tackles, which is second worst among Power 5 teams (South Carolina), so Davis and Allen should pound the rock behind an improving offensive line.

Kiddie Competition

John Plattenburg and Jonathan Lockett were pressed into duty last week at Arizona, but they responded to the challenge, which is now being issued to the incumbents.  Kevon Seymour, Adoree' Jackson and Gerald Bowman are locked into the lineup if healthy, but the true freshmen are pushing for a place. Plus, Rahshead Johnson, who was converted from a wide receiver to a cornerback not too long ago, could make his debut.  At USC, the competition never stops.

Milk the Scoreboard

If the Trojans get a lead, Steve Sarkisian's marching orders to his offense will likely be different this week. The head coach has seen fourth quarter advantages evaporate in each of the last two games in part because the offense was focused more on bleeding the clock than lighting up the scoreboard.  Sarkisian knows no lead is safe anymore in the Pac-12, so he will preach offensive ruthlessness from here on out.


2014-15 Women's Hoops Poster

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Presenting the 2014-15 USC women's basketball schedule poster featuring Kiki Alofaituli, Alexyz Vaioletama, McKenzie Calvert (top row) and Courtney Jaco, Jordan Adams and Brianna Barrett (bottom row).

(Click the poster to download the hi-res version).

2014 WOMEN'S BB Poster H01-lo.jpg

Sark Heard on the Herd

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Head coach Steve Sarkisian joined Colin Cowherd, who broadcast live from the USC campus this morning, in "The Herd" on ESPN Radio.

Click here to listen.

Pac-12 Previews USC-Colorado

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For the first time this season, USC football is on Pac-12 Networks as the Trojans host Colorado.  Here is the conference crew breaking down the match-up...

2014-15 Men's Hoops Poster

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Here is your exclusive first look at the 2014-15 USC men's basketball schedule poster featuring (from left to right) Katin Reinhardt, Jordan McLaughlin, Nikola Jovanovic, Darion Clark and Julian Jacobs...

(Click the poster to download the hi-res version.)

2014 MENS BB Poster.jpg