October 20th – at Los Angeles          No. 11 USC 50, Colorado 6

USC quarterback Matt Barkley threw for 298 yards and six touchdowns while establishing USC’s new career mark for touchdown passes, while Trojan wide receiver Robert Woods set a pair of school records himself in the Trojans’ 50-6 victory over Colorado. Woods set a single-game school record for touchdown catches, with four, and passed Dwayne Jarrett on USC’s career receptions list with his 217th career catch on his third scoring grab.

Colorado, meanwhile, couldn’t get out of its own way, turning the ball over six times, while the Buff defense presented only token opposition to the USC offense. In falling for the 16th time in 20 games under Jon Embree, Colorado endured its 11th blowout loss under the Embree regime.

Fighter Mike Tyson once famously said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face”.

If Colorado had a game plan to take on USC quarterback Matt Barkley and the Trojan wide receivers, that plan lasted all of two plays. Barkley hit Woods for an 11-yard gain on the game’s first play from scrimmage, then connected with Marqise Lee for a 55-yard touchdown on play number two.

Fifty seconds into the game, and USC had all the points it would need to secure a victory.

Still, the remaining 59:10 of game clock needed to be played out, so the teams took the field once again.

Aided by a personal foul penalty, Colorado started its first possession at the 40-yard line. Passes to tight ends Vincent Hobbs and fullback Alex Wood put the ball into Trojan territory, with an 11-yard run by Christian Powell netting another first down. Then, on second-and-three at the USC 21-yard line, an ill-advised throw by Buff quarterback Jordan Webb was picked off in the endzone by Dre McCallister.

It took USC twice as many plays – that is to say four – to score on its second drive of the afternoon. Passes of 19 and 17 yards from Barkley to Lee set up a 39-yard touchdown pass from Barkley to Woods, a play in which both cornerback Kenneth Crawley and safety Terrel Smith had chances at Woods. Instead of going for tackles, though, both defensive backs merely tried to shove Woods out of bounds. Both efforts failed, and USC had a 13-0 lead (the extra point attempt failed) just five minutes into the game.

What was already a bad situation for Colorado … then got worse.

On the Buffs’ next play from scrimmage, Christian Powell was stripped of the ball, with the ever-present Dre McCallister on hand to recover.

Two plays later, Matt Barkley had touchdown pass No. 3, an eight-yarder to Xavier Grimble.

There was still 9:03 left to play in the first quarter, and Colorado already trailed 19-0 (a two-point conversion run failed). USC had run eight plays, had covered 163 yards, and had scored three touchdowns. Many of the 83,274 fans in the Coliseum were just settling into their seats, and the game was already over.

The only remaining issue was to be the final score.

The Colorado offense, which had turned the ball over on its first two possessions, mostly got it right on possession No. 3. Jordan Webb completed passes to Dustin Ebner, Nelson Spruce and Tyler McCulloch on the drive, before catching a 15-yard pass himself from Spruce. A few runs by Webb and Tony Jones pushed the ball into the Trojan red zone, but there the drive stalled. The 15-play, 65-yard drive chewed up almost seven minutes of game clock, but netted only a 27-yard field goal by Will Oliver. USC 19, Colorado 3.

Any glimmer of hope that Buff fans may have had for the afternoon was ignited two plays later, when Buff defensive lineman Will Pericak forced a fumble from Matt Barkley, recovered by linebacker Jon Major. The first quarter ended with a 19-yard pass from Webb to Vincent Hobbs, setting up the Buffs at the USC 21-yard line.

There, however, the dream of a comeback ended, with the Buffs forced to settle for another Will Oliver field goal. The sophomore kicker was good from 37 yards out, making the new score 19-6. The Buffs were playing better, but two trips to the USC red zone had failed to produce a touchdown.

On USC’s ensuing drive, order was restored, as the Trojans scored again. The Buff defense did force its first two third downs of the game, but the first was converted on a pass interference penalty, with the second, a third-and-four from the CU 29-yard line, converted for another Barkley-to-Woods touchdown. USC 26, Colorado 6.

Colorado gained only 14 yards on its next drive, returning the ball to Barkley. It took the USC quarterback only seven plays to cover 80 yards to score again. Facing only two second downs on the drive (one a second-and-one, the other a second-and-two), the Trojans made it look easy. Barkley finished the drive with another touchdown pass to Woods, this one covering 17 yards. Just like that, a 19-3 game with CU in the USC red zone was no longer a contest. USC 33, Colorado 6.

The Buff offense had one last first half drive in them, taking 11 plays to cover 52 yards. Christian Powell gained 12 yards on the ground, while Jordan Webb connected with Tony Jones for 14 yards and Nick Kasa for 12 to once again put the Buffs into the USC red zone. On fourth-and-ten at the Trojan 19-yard line, though, Webb was sacked, ending the threat.

Halftime score: USC 33, Colorado 6

The Colorado offense looked decent to start the third quarter, with runs by Tony Jones between passes to tight ends Vincent Hobbs and fullback Alex Wood. The drive ended, though, with Jordan Webb throwing his second interception of the afternoon. Tony Burnett returned the pick 55 yards to the CU 29 yard line. This was too easy for Matt Barkley and Robert Woods, who connected for the fourth time on the day three plays later.

USC 40, Colorado 6. Barkley was now done for the day, finishing 19-of-20 (his lone miss was a dropped pass) for 298 yards and six touchdowns.

A 45-yard pass completion from Webb to Tony Jones was wasted on the Buffs’ next drive when the CU offense again failed to score in the USC red zone. On third-and-goal at the USC five yard line, Webb was sacked, fumbling the ball away.

USC’s version of the mercy rule then took effect, as the Trojans ran the ball into the middle three times on its next possession, giving the CU defense its first – and only – three-and-out of the day. The Buff offense then – again – made it to the USC red zone, only to fail. As the fourth quarter opened, Jordan Webb threw yet another interception, this time to Gerald Bowman at the USC one-yard line.

With its next drive, the USC backups got it right, taking only six plays to post the final touchdown of the massacre, a 24-yard pass from Max Wittek to D.J. Morgan. After CU backup quarterback Connor Wood fumbled on the Buffs’ next possession – CU’s sixth turover of the day – USC settled for a 37-yard field goal attempt.

Only those with a bet on the game cared about the field goal, as USC, a 41-point favorite heading into the game, had finally covered the spread.

Final score: USC 50, Colorado 6.

The heroics of Matt Barkley and Robert Woods aside, the stats sheet was not as unkind to Colorado as the final score might have otherwise indicated. USC out-gained Colorado, but only 458 to 351. Colorado ran a season-high 85 plays to only 48 for the Trojans (which translates into a nifty 9.5 yards per play for the USC offense, compared to 4.1 for the Buffs).

The stats sheet was littered with names in unfamiliar places for Colorado. Six players carried the ball, let by Christian Powell, who had 14 carries for 56 yards. A total of 11 players caught passes from four different CU passers (in addition to Webb and Wood, wide receivers Nelson Spruce and Gerald Thomas also threw passes). While Tony Jones had the most yards receiving, 57, it was the Buff tight ends and fullbacks which led the receiving crew. Tight end Vincent Hobbs had four catches for 51 yards, Nick Kasa four for 41, with fullback Alex Wood collecting three for 33.

For the beleaguered Buff defense, linebacker Derrick Webb and safety Ray Polk – returning to the lineup for the first time since the season opener – each had six tackles.

“We talked before the game offensively to get first downs and protect the football,” Embree said. “Obviously we didn’t do that. That was the disappointing thing.”

Colorado opponents have scored 298 points in the first seven games in 2012, averaging 42 points a game. Unless the Buffs slow down that pace, this will be the first autumn CU gives up 500 points in a season. CU allowed an average of 41 points over 11 games in 1980. This season’s team is on pace to surrender 504 points in 12 games.

“We have a ways to go no matter what the score is,” Embree said. “We have a ways to go. We’ve got some work to do and we’ll continue to do it and get it fixed.”

“We go over the game plan all week long,” junior safety Parker Orms said. “We get in the book and if guys aren’t getting in the book enough, that’s going to show. Some guys don’t. We’ve just got to be better as a team, completely. It’s not one guy. It’s all of us who keep messing up. We’ve got to fix that somehow, some way.”

That’s not likely to happen in the next week, as Colorado travels to Eugene to face No. 2 Oregon to face an offense scoring over 50 points per game.

Game Notes –

– Colorado has now surrendered over 50 points in consecutive games. The last time that happened? 1962 – a 62-0 loss to Oklahoma followed by a 57-0 loss to Missouri.

– The Buffs have now lost nine games in a row to ranked teams (last win: 2009 over Kansas) and 19 straight against ranked teams on the road (last win: 2002 over UCLA).

– A sellout of over 93,000 was predicted, but only 83,274 showed up for a beautiful 72-degree afternoon game. The total, though, was still the 16th-largest the Buffs have ever played before, and the largest in the Mountain or Pacific time zones.

– Zach Grossnickle kicked off for the first time in his career (he had two free kicks in 2010). His three kicks averaged just over 50 yards, with the three being returned for 76 yards. On CU’s three kickoffs, the Trojans set up at their 34, 37, and 49 yard lines … not good.

– Punter Darragh O’Neill was only called upon once against USC – that’s what six turnovers will do for your stats sheet.

– Quarterback Jordan Webb had three interceptions on the day. The last time a CU quarterback had three interceptions in one game was also in Los Angeles, when Tyler Hansen had three picks against UCLA in 2011.

– Nelson Spruce connected on a 14-yard pass to Jordan Webb against USC. It was the first reception by a CU quarterback since last year against Arizona (a 14-yard touchdown pass from Rodney Stewart to Tyler Hansen) and the first connection between a wide receiver and a quarterback since 2002, when Barry Kunkel threw a 29-yard pass to Robert Hodge.

– Junior fullback Alex Wood almost doubled his receiving numbers for the season. Coming into the game, Wood had three catches for 36 yards; against USC Wood had three catches for 33 yards.

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