Los Angeles, Ca— Colorado stayed close to No. 8 USC in the first quarter on Friday but the Trojans took control in the second and pulled away for a 55-17 victory over the Buffaloes at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
The Buffs led 3-2 after the first quarter, thanks to a swarming defensive effort. USC remained calm and scored 24 unanswered points in the second period to take control and Colorado never had chance after that.
Colorado fell to 1-9 overall and 1-6 in Pac-12 play while USC improved to 9-1, 7-1.
“It was a good start, particularly on defense,” said interim head coach Mike Sanford . “I was pleased with how we prepared and came out and gave some different looks. But Caleb Williams is one of those guys who if you give him a chance to pick you apart, he’s gonna pick you apart. Ultimately, the turnovers and intentional grounding safety were too much to overcome against the team with the firepower that they have.”
Caleb Williams capped a 72-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run for a 9-3 Trojans lead, then punched it from the 4-yard line minutes later to extend the margin to 16-3 after a J.T. Shrout fumble gave USC the ball at Colorado’s 8-yard line.
Colorado’s offense couldn’t move on the next possession and USC responded with a 67-yard USC touchdown drive, with Williams throwing 32 yards to former Buff Brenden Rice for the score.
The Trojans then added a field goal as time expired for a 26-3 halftime advantage.
USC finished with 531 yards total offense. Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams was 14-for-26 for 268 yards and three touchdowns — but he also threw his second pick of the season, a first quarter interception by Colorado cornerback Nikko Reed. Williams also ran for two scores.
The Buffalo moved the ball after the break and scored but USC needed just two plays to put points back on the board, getting a 61-yard touchdown pass from Williams to Tahj Washington and a two-point conversion gave the Trojans a 34-10 lead.
Colorado’s next possession lasted just one play, an pick thrown by Shrout. Eight plays later, USC registered its fifth touchdown, a 12-yard TD pass from Williams to Austin Jones upped CU’s deficit to 41-10.
USC’s reserves added another score early in the fourth quarter to give the Trojans a 48-10 lead.
Colorado amassed just 232 yards total offense. Quarterback J.T. Shrout was 11-for-21 for 124 yards and an interception, and he ran for his first collegiate touchdown. CU running back Alex Fontenot got his first 100-yard game since 2019, finishing with 108 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Jack Hestera led CU receivers with three catches for 39 yards.
“The thing that’s frustrating is our defense is playing as well as they are, particularly in the first half, and then giving USC a short field,” Sanford said. “The fumble really is a huge piece of the game that was a self-inflicted wound. Obviously it’s frustrating but there’s nothing else we can do besides just continue to go back to work.”
USC was struck a major setback as star running back Travis Dye left the field on an injury cart, his final collegiate season over before its home stretch. Each week, Dye would deliver a new pregame speech to inspire the team, he will definitely be missed.
“It just sucks. There’s no other way to put it,” Riley said. “He was one of the key cogs in this team.”
#7 USC will play its crosstown rival #16 UCLA at the Coliseum for a 8:00 P.M start time.