Rising to the Top 25 for the first time in nearly two months, the streaking No. 23 USC Trojans hit the road and take on the Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday night at Folsom Field.
The Trojans snuffed out No. 5 Stanford last week 20-17, forcing three turnovers and generating momentum for interim coach Ed Orgeron to retain the job full-time. Should USC win their final two games, they’ll likely lock down a spot in the Pac-12 championship.
Tied for last place in the Pac-12 South division, 4-6 Colorado ended its second three-game winning streak of the season with a 41-24 victory over 1-10 Cal last week. The Buffaloes field the second worst offense and defense in the conference, and quarterbacks Sefo Liufau and Connor Wood have tossed a combined 13 interceptions to 16 touchdowns.
Under Orgeron USC has gone 5-1, and is currently riding a four-game win streak. During the previously unimaginable run, the Trojans have outscored opponents 132-62, and have held opposing offenses to 4.2 yards per rush.
Sophomore quarterback Cody Kessler has looked far more comfortable in the pocket, with five touchdown passes to one interception in the last four games. Kessler also connected on over 80 percent of his passes on the road against Oregon State and Cal.
Backing up Kessler is the Pac-12’s third-best pass defense allowing 217.5 yards per game with 14 interceptions on the season. Defensive backs Dion Bailey and Su’a Cravens have each tallied four picks this season
That pesky group will try to contain Colorado’s lone offensive weapon, receiver Paul Richardson. The junior is responsible for 71 receptions for 1,201 yards and nine touchdowns, ranking second in the Pac-12.
USC will look to rejuvenate their running game. Sophomore Javorius Allen was held to 26 yards by Stanford after posting back-to-back 100-yard games. Allen took more snaps while top rusher Tre Madden recuperated from a hamstring injury.
Madden has sat out two games after suffering the injury against Notre Dame, and has totaled 71 yards on 19 attempts in three games since.
Kessler will also have to find a way to better utilize receiver Marqise Lee, who’s notched seven catches for 106 yards in the last two games.
USC will also have to fend off Buffaloes linebacker Addison Gillam and defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe, a pair that’s totaled seven of the team’s 14 sacks.
Betting Odds: USC favored by 22 points
Over/Under: 54 points
Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: Pac-12 Network