November 23rd – Boulder          No. 23 USC 47, Colorado 29

The No. 23 USC Trojans took advantage of two first half Colorado turnovers to build a 23-0 halftime lead, coasting to a 47-29 win over the Buffs in Boulder. The Buffs’ point total matched the temperature at kickoff, 29-degrees, with only 36,005 on hand to witness the Buffs’ home finale.

USC quarterback Cody Kessler went 19-of-28 for 184 yards and two touchdowns, while running back Javorius Allen had 20 carries for 143 yards and three scores to lead the Trojans. The Buffs, held to 73 yards of total offense in the first half, managed four second half touchdowns to make the score more respectable.

Freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau finished 17-of-33 for 188 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Paul Richardson, shut out in the first half, finished with eight catches for 88 yards and a touchdown, while Michael Adkins led the CU rushing attack with 14 carries for 63 yards and a touchdown.

Colorado opened the game against No. 23 USC as if the Buffs had every intention of staying with the Trojans. An eight-yard pass from Sefo Liufau to Nelson Spruce, followed by a five-yard run by Christian Powell gave CU a first down. An 11-yard run by Tony Jones gave CU first down No. 2.

And so ended the Buffs’ offensive productivity for the first half.

A pass interference penalty on a pick by D.D. Goodson pushed the Buffs back 15 yards, then Paul Richardson failed to line up a step off the line of scrimmage on the next play, “covering up” tight end Scott Fernandez, drawing another 15-yard penalty. What had been a promising start to a drive wound up as a seven-play, ten-yard drive.

The USC offense was much more efficient on its first drive of the game. Converting a pair of third downs along the way, the Trojans marched 71 yards in ten plays, with running back Javorius Allen scoring from 12 yards out.

After a three-and-out by the CU offense, and a short punt by Darragh O’Neill set up the Trojans near midfield, it appeared that a rout might be on. Instead, the CU defense held, forcing a USC punt. The next CU offensive possession led to points … for USC. A three-and-out was followed by a blocked punt by the Trojans. The only saving grace for the Buffs is that the punt went out of the endzone. Instead of a touchdown, USC had to settle for a safety.

9-0, USC, with 4:11 to play in the first quarter.

The Colorado defense held again after the free kick, but the CU offense again went nowhere. Okay, the Buffs did pick up their third first down of the first half before punting, but again the CU offense failed to mount anything resembling a drive.

The teams traded punts, with the Colorado defense keeping the Buffs in the game. Taking over at the CU 25 after a USC punt midway through the second quarter, the game turned for good. On first down, Liufau was sacked, fumbling the ball back to USC. The Trojans took advantage, needing only five plays to cover 20 yards for a touchdown. Javorius Allen picked up his second touchdown of the first half from a yard out. USC 16, Colorado 0.

The Buffs picked up a pair of first downs on their next drive, with Liufau hitting D.D. Goodson for 16 yards, followed by a defensive holding call on the Trojans. Making their first foray into USC territory, the Buffs’ drive ended abruptly when Liufau was intercepted by Dion Bailey at the USC 34-yard line.

The ensuing drive was a pitch-and-catch between USC quarterback Cody Kessler and tight end Xavier Grimble. The pair connected on gains of six, seven, six and six yards to methodically move the ball down the field. With 42 seconds left before halftime, Kessler hit Nelson Agholor for a 20-yard touchdown.

Halftime score: USC 23, Colorado 0.

The statistics at the break reflected the score. Colorado had all of 73 yards of total offense. CU freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau was made to look like a freshman, hitting only four-of-15 passes for 43 yards. Liufau had two turnovers in the first half, with both converted into USC touchdowns. The Colorado defense was holding its own, with the Trojans needing 17:35 of first half clock to produce 206 yards of total offense.

The CU defense took matters into its own hands early in the third quarter. On the first play from scrimmage, Javorius Allen went around right end. CU junior safety Jered Bell stripped the ball away from Allen, picked it up, and raced 31 yards for a Colorado touchdown. USC 23, Colorado 7.

Allen took the fumble personally, going for 46 yards to the CU 29-yard line the next time he touched the ball. From there, it took the Trojans only five more plays to score, with Cody Kessler hitting Randall Telfer for a ten-yard touchdown. Less than four minutes into the third quarter, order had been restored, with USC on top, 30-7.

A three-and-out by the Colorado offense – the Buffs’ fifth drive of the game which ended without a first down – combined with a 20-yard punt return by Nelson Agholor, gave the Trojan offense the ball at the CU 43-yard line. Four plays later, it was 37-7, with Javorius Allen scoring on his third touchdown of the game, this time from 23 yards out.

The Buffs’ next drive involved CU star receiver Paul Richardson for the first time, with Liufau hitting Richardson three times for 28 yards. The drive ended, however, at the USC 35-yard line, with Liufau unable to hit tight end Scott Fernandez on a fourth-and-two pass.

After forcing a three-and-out from the USC offense, the Buffs launched their first scoring drive of the game. Covering 78 yards in eight plays, Liufau hit Nelson Spruce for a 38-yard touchdown on the second play of the fourth quarter. USC 37, Colorado 14.

Unable to stand any modicum of success, the Buffs then surrendered a scoring drive to the Trojans. USC went 43 yards in nine plays, including a 22-yard completion on third-and-13, settling for a 39-yard field goal by Andre Heidari with 10:14 to play. USC 40, Colorado 14.

The Colorado offense responded with a scoring drive of its own to help make the stats more respectable. A pair of Michael Adkins runs netted 11 yards before Christian Powell gained 14 around left end. Sefo Liufau then hit Paul Richardson for 30 yards to set up a first-and-goal at the three yard line, with Michael Adkins scoring his sixth touchdown of the season. USC 40, Colorado 21, with eight minutes left in the game.

A three-and-out and a short punt set the Buffs up on the Trojan side of the ball for the first time all game. The CU offense took advantage, going 42 yards in seven plays to score. A pair of ten-yard passes from Liufau to Richardson set the Buffs up in the redzone, with Liufau hitting Richardson for a five yard touchdown. A two-point conversion pass from Liufau to D.D. Goodson brought the Buffs to within 11 points, at 40-29, with three minutes to play.

The requisite onside kick almost worked, as the Buffs had several chances to collect the ball before the Trojans were able to secure possession. Setting up shop at the CU 49-yard line, the Trojans put the game away two plays later. Backup fullback Soma Vainuku broke several Buff tackles in running for a 52-yard touchdown to end the scoring.

Final score: No. 23 USC 47, Colorado 29

“I thought our team kept fighting, which I was really proud of”, said Mike MacIntyre. “I was proud of how our seniors helped our guys prepare for this game, and how a lot of those guys played their hearts out. We had some opportunities in the first half and just couldn’t get cranked up on offense. USC had something to do with that. Then we got something going in the second half, we had the turnover (fumble recovery returned for a touchdown), and then we couldn’t stop them on the long drive. But our guys kept fighting and kept scrapping”.

USC out-gained Colorado, 449-312, converting half (8-of-16) of its third down opportunities and scoring touchdowns on all four drives into the CU red zone. For the Colorado offense, even the 312 yard number was inflated, with over half – 172 yards – coming in the fourth quarter with the game already decided.

For the CU seniors, the loss eliminated the last hope for a bowl game in their careers. At 4-7 (1-6), the Buffs would have only one game left to play in 2013, a matchup with 4-7 (1-6) Utah to decide which team would finish fifth in the Pac-12 South.

“I wouldn’t say my career was empty at all”, said senior linebacker Derrick Webb when asked about going without a bowl game in his career at Colorado. “It has been a tough four or five years. I learned a lot and met a lot of great men. I participated at the highest level of college football. I’ve had some great wins here at Colorado. There will some great wins to come for Colorado. I plan on coming back for some of those. This is bigger than my career. I did everything I could for my team and I feel like they did the same for me. The results are what they are. It’s been a crazy ride. We had three coaches. All we can control is ourselves. I trust these guys every week. We come out there and battle. That is definitely not an empty feeling.”

Game Notes –

– Senior defensive back Parker Orms received the 16th annual Buffalo Heart Award, given out by the “fans behind the bench” to the player with those qualities they feel best exemplifies the heart of a buffalo. “I feel like all of the seniors deserve that award for what we have battled through the past five years,” said Orms. “We have grown together and battled every Saturday together. All of the seniors deserve that award.”

– The temperature at kickoff was 29-degrees, only tied for the 11th-coldest home game in CU history. The loss was only the second at home in sub-30-degree weather, with the only other loss coming in a 35-27 loss to Iowa State in 2000.

– Attendance for the game was 36,005. The home average for the season fell to 38,296, the lowest average home attendance since 1985 (36,789), and the first sub-40,000 mark since 1988 (39,190).

– The victory gave USC an 8-0 all-time lead on Colorado in the series. The 29 points scored by the Buffs marked the first time CU exceeded 17 points against the Trojans in a game.

– The safety which came with the blocked punt out of the end zone was the second against the Buffs in 2013 (quarterback Sefo Liufau was called for intentional grounding on a pass out of the end zone against Arizona State). The last CU safety was posted by Terrel Smith, who tackled Oregon kick returner Cliff Harris in the end zone for a safety in 2011 in Boulder.

Paul Richardson … Continued to close in on records, while extending others. His eight catches for 88 yards and a touchdown gave him 79 catches for 1,289 yards on the season. The yardage total extended his record (Charles E. Johnson had 1,149 in 1992), while the 79 catches set a new record for catches in a season, breaking the old mark of 78, set by D.J. Hackett in 2003 … Richardson’s touchdown gave him 10 on the season, and 21 for his career, leaving him one short of the single season record (11, Derek McCoy, 2003) and one short of the career record (22, by Scotty McKnight, 2007-10).

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3 Replies to “No. 23 USC 47, Colorado 29”

  1. I never played defensive back, and I’m sure I do not know all that is involved in covering a receiver, but watching last night’s game there were at least 3 times in the first half when I thought the CU DB could have intercepted the ball if he had just looked back at the QB.

    I realize the DB has to follow the receiver and keep an eye on him, but the receiver always looks back as he runs and the DB does not. Why?

  2. Hey Stuart just wanted first to say thanks for the hat and mousepad. I really like the hat and need to buy a mouse so I can use your pad. I also wanted to comment on a couple things, I noticed last night that a lot of the usc players didn’t wear long sleeves and the buffs did. Seemed to me that usc wanted to seem intimidating and was interesting. Also wanted to say that I hear a lot of talk about cu fans wanting Oregon to be our rival. In my opinion I think USC is going to be our team to beat, we need to designate them as the game. They will always be good and if the buffs can beat them, that’ll be the sign that cu is once again a dominant team. Thanks again Stuart love your blog!

  3. The effort was fine, that is not this team’s problem and I think we all know that. CU got crushed at the line of scrimmage on both sides. We do not have the talent to compete yet, bottom line. I never understand why coaches and players don’t ever admit that, they always say they need to work on this or try harder, there comes a point where talent matters and you either have it or you don’t.

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