No. 21 USC Football Visits New Pac-12 Member Colorado|
Oct. 30, 2011
No. 21 USC--coming off a gut-wrenching triple overtime loss to Stanford--will look to rebound as it begins its final month of play this season when it visits new Pac-12 member Colorado for a chilly Friday night encounter, with a national audience watching on ESPN. Colorado, on the other hand, is seeking its first Pac-12 victory. The teams have played only 5 times in history (Troy has never lost to the Buffaloes), with the last meeting a decade ago in Boulder. It is USC's first Friday game since 1999 and the first-ever Friday home game for Colorado. The game is approaching a sellout, which would be the third straight game that the Trojans have played in front of a capacity crowd.
Trojan honors candidates QB Matt Barkley and WR Robert Woods form perhaps the nation's premier pass/catch combo. Barkley--in the nation's Top 20 in passing efficiency and total offense--is fourth on USC's career passing and fifth in total offense (he set school single game records for pass completions, yards, TDs and total offense this season). Woods is the only player in the national Top 5 in receptions, receiving yards and all-purpose running and is on pace to break the school single season receptions record. TB Curtis McNeal has led USC in rushing 5 times in 2011 and is riding a pair of 100-yard ground outings. Pre-season All-American OT Matt Kalil (with 4 blocked kicks this year on special teams) anchors a line that has allowed just 4 sacks.
The Trojan defense features a nice mix of youth (LBs Dion Bailey and Hayes Pullard) and experience (CB Nickell Robey, pre-season All-American S T.J. McDonald, DE Nick Perry, LB Chris Galippo). PK Andre Heidari, who has missed just 2 of his 15 field goal tries this season and had a 50-yarder last week, tops the Pac-12 in 3-point kicking.
Colorado has struggled in the rookie season of alumnus head coach Jon Embree, the former All-Big 8 tight end. The Buffaloes are on a 6-game losing streak after falling at Arizona State last Saturday (their 22nd straight road loss). Statistically, CU is in the nation's bottom 30 in total offense (they've generated an average of just 90 yards on the ground) and total defense while allowing 38 points a game. QB Tyler Hansen ranks in the school's all-time Top 10 charts in passing yards, pass completions, passing TDs and total offense. Injuries have been a factor for CU. TB Rodney Stewart, Colorado's top all-around player (he is ninth nationally in all-purpose running), has been out recently with a knee injury, as has its top receiver (WR Paul Richardson). Stewart is CU's No. 2 career rusher and all-purpose runner. S Anthony Perkins is the tackle leader on a Buffalo defense that lost key ILB Douglas Rippy to a knee injury. Dual-footed freshman punter Darragh O'Neill is in the nation's Top 30 in punting.