In spite of the 29-degree cold – the second lowest temperature that USC ‘s Trojans have played in during their 125 years of football with only a game against Notre Dame in South Bend, IN in 1957 being played in colder weather – their game against the Colorado Buffaloes in Boulder on Saturday night went just as everyone expected.
Ed Orgeron continued his bid to have the “Interim” label removed from his title as his (for the time being) Trojans had no problem with Colorado, Javorious “Buck” Allen leading the way with 148 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries in their 47-29 win before 36,005 shivering fans, disposing all concerns of a hangover or a letdown after their huge win over Stanford the previous week.
Although their Rose Bowl hopes were killed with Arizona State’s win over UCLA earlier in the day, ‘SC continues to surge as they are now 9-3, 6-2 in the Pac-12 South, 6-1 since Orgeron took over for Lane Kiffin, and maintained their #23 ranking in the BCS and AP standings.
Orgeron has the team playing at such a high level, you know things are going very well when even the coach that you replaced endorses you to take over permanently, as Kiffin recently did.
This Trojan win was so dominant, with most of the Buffaloes’ 29 points coming in the fourth quarter against the reserves, they didn’t even need Marqise Lee as the wide receiver stayed home to nurse a injured shin, obviously being saved for a certain crosstown rival that they will face next – more on that a little later.
Cody Kessler continued his efficiency at quarterback with his 184 yards in the air and touchdown throws to Nelson Agholor and Randall Telfer, and Dion Bailey added an interception, his team-leading fifth of the year, to help the ‘SC defense hold CU to 124 yards on the ground and 188 in the air – most of those yards apparently gained after the score was no longer in doubt.
Other than a guy attempting to set the record for most back flips during halftime, impressively going across the field, the game was – to be honest – pretty uneventful as no Trojan outside of Allen had a huge day numbers-wise.
Except for perhaps fullback Sofa Vainuku, who should get praise and props for his all-around standout play, blocking a punt for a safety in the first quarter and going on a 52-yard run in the fourth for another score, ending with 70 yards in just five carries.
Vainuku has made a knack for blocking punts, doing so against California and Arizona as well as versus the Buffs, and has become – along with Kessler, Lee, Agholor, and all the rest of the bigger, more recognizable names that the Trojans have – a big weapon for them.
In fact, one can easily tell by the post-game comments that Orgeron and the players had their minds set on something other than Colorado rather quickly after business was taken care of at Folsom Field…
“I’m ready (for UCLA),” Kessler stated. ” (The UCLA game), this is what you play for…This is a huge week and this week cannot be understated so we’re excited.”
Tight end Xavier Grimble, who led USC with six catches, added, “It’s perfect. It’s played out exactly how we wanted it…We have only one loss (to Notre Dame) and we’ve got a lot of momentum going into UCLA. I’m really excited. I can’t wait.”
And you know what, Xavier? I’ll bet anything that everyone in the “Trojan Family”, from President C. Max Nikias to the well-heeled and extremely affluent boosters to the students to the working-class fans who never spent one day in college, let alone USC, feels the exact same way you do.
UCLA Bruins – The 83rd Meeting of the Crosstown Rivalry
PLACE: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 30, 5:00 p.m. PT
TV: KABC Channel 7 (in the SoCal area)
ALL-TIME SERIES: USC leads, 46-29-7
LAST MEETING: UCLA won, 38-28
There will be complete coverage of this storied rivalry all this week on this site, featuring a special article as well as a complete preview of the game and a post which will give my official prediction of how the game will go, plus the score.
NOTE: USC and UCLA coverage will be combined this week, rather than separate.