Southern Cal Will Ruin Home Finale for Colorado

Rainman M.

Thursday, November 9, 2017 3:56 PM UTC

Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017 3:56 PM UTC

Colorado (5-5) hosts No. 11 USC (8-2) on Saturday at 4 PM ET. The Trojans, favored by 13.5, will try to spoil Colorado's Senior Day and clinch the Pac-12 South. 

Free NCAAF Pick: USC -13.5Best Line Offered: Heritage

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No. 11 USC Trojans at Colorado Buffaloes

USC has produced 97 points in its last two games by relying on its physical rush attack, whereas formerly the offense ran primarily through quarterback Sam Darnold. Running back Ronald Jones ran for 410 yards in those two games. Colorado has consistently been unable to deter a physical rush attack in conference play. Washington's Myles Gaskin, Oregon State's Ryan Nall and, most recently, Arizona State's Demario Richard utilized their massive strength to run for around 200 yards and help their respective teams cover against Colorado's thinned and undersized defense.

Jones is know for utilizing his speed, explosiveness and balance in order to elude and outpace defenders. But he accrued significant bulk in the offseason and is improving his strength in order to break through contact and run over defenders. He now possesses the kind of power running style that has plagued Colorado's run defense, in addition to his big-play ability. Colorado is 0-5 ATS when allowing 100+ rush yards. The concentration of Colorado's defense upon Jones will give Darnold more opportunities, especially against a defense whose anemic pass rush ranks 92nd in sack percentage.

Deontay Burnett leads USC's wide receivers with 832 yards. He will matchup against Colorado's less than healthy Isaiah Oliver. After Oliver, Colorado's secondary suffers a major drop-off in talent. The entire defense's tackling ability casts doubt upon their ability to contain USC's other stars, like receiver Tyler Vaughns, who is a menace in open space.

The Buffaloes will need to score en masse in order to keep pace with USC's balanced offensive attack. But quarterback Steve Montez will fail to help.  Montez shows up against weaker secondaries, but against the two top-50 secondaries which he has faced, he is combined 25 of 40 for 192 yards, 0 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Against ranked competition, his passer rating is 87.8, compared to 142.6 on the season. The Trojans' secondary ranks 29th in terms of opposing quarterback rating.  Iman Marshall leads USC's secondary with 8 passes defended. Colorado is 1-4 ATS when throwing for fewer than 300 yards.

Colorado center Tim Lynott will miss his first career game and be replaced with a third-stringer. The Buffaloes' offensive line had already been called out as soft and has struggled to respond. They rank 109th in sack percentage allowed. The Trojans' defensive line ranks 9th in sack percentage and will plague Colorado's Montez and running back Phillip Lindsay. Defensive End Rasheem Green leads the Trojans with 7 sacks.

The trenches will be crucial for Colorado, which will want to rely on Lindsay as much as possible to avoid having to pass against USC's secondary and to rest its undersized defense. Lindsay lacks the big-play ability and the overall skill set in order to take over the game for Colorado. Especially with Lynott out, USC star defensive tackle Josh Fatu will showcase his run-stopping skill set in order to disrupt Colorado's run game.


The Verdict

Without Lindsay doing much and Montez ineffective against a strong secondary, Colorado's offense lacks the tools to keep pace with USC. The Trojans can wear down the Buffs, as have other physical Pac-12 rush attacks, with Jones while stretching out Colorado's defense with its aerial weapons.

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