The Colorado Buffaloes have been very scrappy under Coach Mike MacIntyre and with two weeks to prepare after a bye, they can hang within three scored at USC.
The competitive underdog coming off of a bye looks like the right side as a huge underdog in Pac-12 play Saturday evening when those Colorado Buffaloes (2-4, 3-3 ATS) pay a visit to the 22nd ranked USC Trojans (4-2, 4-2 ATS) at the Coliseum in Los Angeles, CA at 6:00 ET in a game available on the Pac-12 Network.
The posted line at Pinnacle Sports is Colorado +21 for this contest at current odds of -106.
Trojans Re-Enter Polls
The Colorado program was in the dumps two years ago when the Buffaloes went 1-11, but they then hired former San Jose State Coach Mike MacIntyre and showed some college football pick improvement last year although still finishing 4-8. And although the Buffaloes are 2-4 this year, they have not really been blown out yet with the worst loss being by 14 points. MacIntyre has also had two full weeks of preparation time with Colorado being on a bye last week.
The Trojans began the season ranked as usual, but they dropped out of the rankings for one of the rare occasions when they lost to Boston College on the road and to Arizona State at home in a span of three games. They then went on the road last week though and knocked then 10th ranked Arizona from the ranks of the unbeaten in hostile territory 28-26, leading to their re-insertion in the polls this week at number 22.
But given the way USC has been bouncing up and down this season while usually playing down to the level of its opponent, can a letdown be expected returning home vs. a lower-echelon Pac-12 team after that enormous win in Tucson put the Trojans back in the South Division race? Now we are not suggesting that USC will lose this game on the field, as they probably will not, but covering three touchdowns is another story.
After all, it is not inconceivable that the Trojans could be 2-4 right now instead of 4-2 as besides the two-point win last week where they were slightly outgained by Arizona by 48 total yards, they also show a narrow 13-10 win at Stanford on their ledger where they were outgained even more badly by 122 total yards.
The problem has been that the USC defense has not been up to the standards of the better Trojan defenses of recent years, as this 2014 version only ranks 75th in the country in total defense allowing 405.0 yards per game, including surrendering a disturbing 4.6 yards per rush.
Competitive Buffaloes in Pac-12
Meanwhile Colorado is ranked 29th nationally in total offense with 476.7 yards per game, and that includes 156.3 rushing yards on 4.2 yards per carry to go along with a hefty 320.3 passing yards.
It seems the Buffaloes are quite capable of scoring points here by exploiting the USC defense with the run, and that should free up quarterback Sefo Liufau to continue his fine season that has seen him complete 65.4 percent of his passes while throwing 19 touchdown passes vs. seven interceptions.
Yes Colorado is 0-3 in Pac-12 play, but they are not conference doormats any longer! They covered the spread while losing 38-24 to Arizona State in their first conference loss, and their other two Pac-12 defeats were 59-56 in overtime to California on the road and 36-31 to Oregon State in their last game before the bye two weeks ago.
Covered Spread Last Year
USC is 5-0 in the all time series, but after the first four wins were all massive blowouts, the Buffs made some strides in their first meeting vs. the Trojans with MacIntyre as their coach last season, covering the spread in a 47-29 loss.
Just a duplication of that margin would be good enough to get the cover today, but we would not be surprised if this game is closer than that so take the points with Colorado as it visits USC in Los Angeles on Saturday.
College Football Pick: Colorado +21 (-106)