November 11th – Boulder           No. 15 USC 38, Colorado 24

Quarterback Sam Darnold threw for 329 yards and three touchdowns, rushing for another, leading No. 15 USC to a 38-24 victory over Colorado. Ronald Jones II added 142 yards on the ground for 9-2 USC, which defeated Colorado for the 12th straight time.

The Buffs were led by quarterback Steven Montez, who went 27-for-49 for 376 yards and two touchdowns. An interception for a touchdown thrown right before the half, however, gave USC a 20-0 lead at the half, with the Buffs never getting within two scores the remainder of the game.

Overall, the stats were fairly close, with both teams posting 23 first downs. USC had 522 yards of total offense, to 486 for Colorado. Mistakes on offense, defense, and special teams, however, doomed the Buffs to their sixth loss of the season, with a win on the road against Utah now a necessity if Colorado was to go bowling in consecutive years for the first time since 2004-05.

“We had some critical mistakes and kind of gave them the game,” said CU head coach Mike MacIntyre. “They’re the most talented team in our league year in and year out, no doubt about it. We had some opportunities tonight and squandered it away.”


When the 2017 schedule was announced last spring, Buff fans couldn’t help but notice that the USC was the last home game on the schedule, with the Trojans coming to Boulder on November 11th. While no one likes to sit in the snow to watch a game, it was hard not to hope that the southern California Trojans (12-11-2 all-time in “cold weather” games) might be treated to a snowy welcome in Boulder.

No such luck.

The Trojans were treated to a beautiful 55-degree day, with a mid-afternoon kickoff easy on the fans … and the opposition.

USC received the opening kickoff, and it looked like it was going to be a long day for the Colorado defense. On the second play of the game, Trojan quarterback Sam Darnold completed a 32-yard pass to Michael Pittman, and, just like that, the USC offense was in CU territory. The drive stalled, however, at the Buff 22-yard line, with USC kicker Chase McGrath missing a 40-yard field goal.

Perhaps it was going to be the Buffs day, after all.

The CU offense, however, quickly punted the ball back to the USC offense, with the Trojans mounting another drive. Despite penalties costing them 20 yards, the Trojans still made it into CU territory. On fourth-and-one at the Buff 45-yard line, however, running back Aca’Cedric Ware was stuffed for no gain, giving the ball back to the Buff offense.

The teams then traded punts before the Buffs put together their first drive of the game. A 21-yard completion from Steven Montez to Bryce Bobo ignited the drive, with Phillip Lindsay picking up the next 16 yards over three plays to give CU a first down at the USC 38-yard line. There, Steven Montez hit tight end Chris Bounds for a 38-yard touchdown.

Except it wasn’t.

Wide receiver Shay Fields was called for pass interference on the play, negating the score. Three plays later, the Buffs faced a fourth-and-nine at the USC 37-yard line. With a long field goal not an option, the Buffs went for the first down, but the ball went back to the Trojans when Montez was sacked for a three-yard loss.

The Buff defense had held the Trojans on their first three drives, but the fourth, early in the second quarter, gave USC the lead. The Trojans covered 60 yards in eight plays, with the drive capped by a ten-yard scoring pass from Sam Darnold to Michael Pittman. USC 7, Colorado 0, three minutes into the second quarter.

After a quick three-and-out from the CU offense, the Trojans looked to take control. Converting a fourth-and-one at their own 40 gave USC momentum, with Darnold hitting Tyler Vaughns on successive passes going for 29 and 24 yards. On the next play from scrimmage, Darnold connected with Deontay Burnett for an 18-yard touchdown. Midway through the second quarter, USC had a 14-0 lead.

The Buff offense then mounted its best drive of the first half, covering 50 yards in 13 plays. Consecutive completions from Montez to Devin Ross, covering 14 yards, was followed by a 12-yard hookup between Montez and Bryce Bobo for 12 yards. Stalled at the 30, kicker James Stefanou was called upon for a 47-yard attempt. The kick was blocked, however, giving the ball back to the Trojans with 1:40 remaining in the half.

A quick three-and-out forced by the Buff defense gave CU one last opportunity for a score. There was a score, but not by the Buffs. With 19 seconds remaining, a Steven Montez offering was picked off by USC defensive back Ajene Harris, who returned it 34 yards for a touchdown. That the Trojans missed the extra point was of little consolation, as the Buffs took a three-score deficit into the locker room.

Halftime score: No. 15 USC 20, Colorado 0

Any chance at a Colorado comeback was seemingly erased with the results of first two drives of the second half.

The Buffs got the ball to start the third quarter, and moved the ball well. Two Phillip Lindsay runs netted 19 yards before Steven Montez hit Bryce Bobo for a 27-yard gain to the USC 29-yard line. Three more plays netted seven yards, with James Stefanou brought in to put the Buffs on the board. The 39-yard attempt was blocked, however, leaving the Buffs down 20-0.

Six plays later, it was 27-0.

A 37-yard pass from Sam Darnold to Deontay Burnett put the ball at the CU 29-yard line. Unlike the Buffs, however, the Trojans’ drive did not thereafter come to an end. Two plays later, Darnold took it in himself, making it a 27-0 game six minutes into the second half.

As many of the 49,337 Buff faithful began to make their way to the exits, the Colorado offense made a play. On the second play of the drive, Steven Montez hit a wide open Juwann Winfree, who completed a 79-yard scoring play to get the Buffs on the board. USC 27, Colorado 7.

The Buff defense – with the help of two penalties against the Trojan offense – then forced a three-and-out. USC, though, did not complete the “out” portion of the equation. USC punter Reid Budrovich had his kick blocked by Buff linebacker Nate Landman, with Kyle Ringo scooping up the ball and returning it 12 yards to the USC one yard line.

It took three tries, but the Buffs got it in on third-and-goal, with Phillip Lindsay scoring from a yard out. A 27-0 game at the 9:14 mark of the third quarter, it was suddenly a game again, at 27-14, with 5:30 still to play in the third.

The USC offense quickly responded. It took the Trojans all of three plays to get to the CU ten yard line. There, however, the USC offense was not able to complete the drive, settling for a 26-yard field goal by Chase McGrath, upping USC’s advantage to 30-14.

The Buffs countered with a field goal drive of their own. A 19-yard run by Steven Montez sandwiched Montez completions to Laviska Shenault (for 12 yards) and to Byrce Bobo (for 11 more), giving Buff fans hope as the fourth quarter opened. Instead, the Buff drive fizzled out at the USC 16-yard line, with CU getting James Stefanou to get one through the uprights for the first time on the afternoon. Stefanou’s field goal attempt from 39 yards out was good.

USC 30, Colorado 17, with 12:42 still to play.

Hopes for a miracle comeback, though, were quickly quashed. The USC offense covered 72 yards in eight plays, with Ronald Jones finishing off the drive with a 22-yard scoring run. Apparently worried about a CU comeback, USC went for a two-point conversion and were successful, making it a 21-point game.

Down 38-17, the Buffs answered quickly. On the fourth play of the ensuing drive, Steven Montez again connected with Juwann Winfree. This long scoring play went for 57 yards, bringing the Buffs back to within two scores, at 38-24, midway through the fourth quarter.

After a three-and-out was forced by the Buff defense, there was a glimmer of hope for Colorado. Instead, Steven Montez threw his second interception of the night, which was originally ruled a return for a touchdown, but Ajene Harris was ruled down at the CU 26-yard line, sparing the Buffs a second pick-six in the same game.

The Buffs held downs, but time was now running out. The CU offense covered 75 yards in 15 plays, but the final Buff drive of the game was snuffed out when Steven Montez was tackled for a loss of five yards on fourth-and-goal at the USC three yard line with 1:24 left to play.

Final score: No. 15 USC 38, Colorado 24

“We have to focus on being bowl eligible,” said Phillip Lindsay, who was held to 68 yards on 20 carries, but was honored with the Buffalo Heart Award after the game. “I know that, our seniors know that, everyone knows that. For me, when I’m done, I’ll look back at everything and cherish every moment of it. All you have to do is play a game, execute, and go to a bowl.”

“We had tons of missed opportunities,” said quarterback Steven Montez. “We are going to come in, work every day, try to get Utah schemed up.”

The loss left the Buffs with a 5-6 records, still in search of a sixth win and bowl eligibility. “I’m approaching it like it could possibly be my last college game,” said senior safety Afolabi Laguda. “I’m going to wear myself out, there’s nothing left to keep in the tank.”

Here is the YouTube video of the game, courtesy of CU at the Gamer Paul:


Game Notes … 

— The 486 yards of total offense were the most ever for a CU offense against USC, but the loss left the Buffs with an 0-12 all-time record against the Trojans (0-6 in Boulder; 0-6 in Los Angeles);

— Juwann Winfree had five catches for 163 yards, while Bryce Bobo had 10 catches for 113 yards. The game marked the first time since 2013 that two CU wide receivers had over 100 yards receiving in the same game;

— The attendance of 49,377 gave CU an average home attendance for the season of 47,056, the highest average home attendance since 2011;

— The 19th annual Buffalo Heart Award was presented post-game to TB Phillip Lindsay.  Coordinated and selected by the “fans behind the bench,” he is the fourth running back to win the award, joining Cortlen Johnson (2001), Bobby Purify (2004) and Rodney Stewart (2011) as well as the 11th offensive player to win it (co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Darrin Chiaverini (WR) was the inaugural recipient in 1998).


13 Replies to “No. 15 USC 38, Colorado 24”

  1. maybe someone can point out to me the usefulness of that man in motion that runs in front of the QB. I saw one play where they handed off to Phil going in the opposite direction that got about 10 yards. Other than that one play it seemed like there was nothing else that worked with the man in motion thing.There didnt seem much thought in developing that situation.
    Oh wait ….thats how the flea flicker started, the trick play that the codgers hate, that would have been a touch down before Field’s mind went blank. I sure hope he wasnt pizzzed that ball wasnt coming to him.

    1. Hey EP,

      I believe they use that to get the DB coverage exposed. The movement of the DB’s in response to the motion tells the QB what coverage they are using. I could be wrong because I was a lineman and had my own issues to worry about with stunting and shifting, but I believe that is the purpose of the man in motion.

      Now if you are looking for justification, I am not the guy……

  2. taking cj a little further. We had 3 time outs yet Lingering called 3 sideline routes in a row. USC was sitting on that route and ….voila…. a pick 6… over at the half.
    There must be a picture of Lingering in all the other PAC 12 DC’s offices with a big red ball nose and wild orange hair superimposed on it. If that guy is still around next year, the Buffs will be in the cellar again.

    1. Definitely cannot understand that call. You always launch that pass over the middle and use the play clock stoppage to your advantage.

      Sideline route with no look off……pick six in high school ball.

  3. I just love this quote: “We just gave it to them”. Mac. Let me see…..was going for it 4th and 9 first or second drive of the game the beginning of that Mac?? Totally out of touch with good coaching. USC could have put up another 20 points if they wanted to. Give me a break.
    Bright spot was Juwan Winfree. Sealed his fate as a starter next year. Montez?????? Not so much. Stupid decisions once again. If Buffs are lucky enough to beat Utah, Look for the Vegas Bowl…..if that good.

    1. Have a hard time blaming Montez when his offen-sieve line blocks no one. Put him behind the USC line and see what he can do with almost no pressure, then evaluate his skills.

      1. I am wondering if Chev and Lingering are spending enough time in practice on timing patterns. Bobo may not have Field’s and the Ross speed but he always seems to get separation on his cuts and he has, hands down, the best hands on the team. Be interesting to see if he gets drafted and if he does if he goes first of our receivers

        1. Bono has always been a steady producer, and Montez seems to have more confidence in him than the rest of the receivers.

        2. There is no way either Ross or Fields get drafted the way they played this year. I think Bobo has a good chance, has the desire and build of a pro receiver.

  4. We saw today the difference between a quarterback with skill and the maturity to use it and the other who has an arm, two legs but no sense of place, time or reality; a coaching staff committed to excellence vs one that always calls exactly the wrong play at the worst, most obvious time, then blame the errors on players. CU will never be an elite program as long as their coaching staff’s philosophy remains mired in treating games like prep school free for alls rather than the major source of pride and revenue for the university that it could be. Time to bring Gary Barnett out of the radio booth and onto the CU sidelines.

  5. Talk about a reversal of fortune.

    Last year it was “From the bottom to the top here we are” A ‘chevism’ I believe.

    And CJ is right. That play call was absurd. Yup he underthrew it, but man what a bad call. Kinda illustrates the play calling (and design and scheme and what ever) for the last 5 years. The rhyme and reason of the play calling is like a bad poem.

    And special teams is a mess. Even with a good kicker. And the D actually played pretty good.

    Man not getting a bowl game is gonna hurt.


    Note: Lucky it was a cream puff non con schedule.

  6. More talented players and coaches that know how to utilize them.

    The Buffs continue to make enough mistakes every game to put themselves in a hole and just don’t have the players, or schemes to claw their way back. The offense really has very little identity except for a gutsy guy from South HS Denver. Just when you think maybe Special Teams are competitive they get two blocked and short kickoffs. ST’s under Mac 2 has never been good enough to really be a contender in every game.

    We still need to get stronger, block better, tackle better, faster, and better up front on both sides of the ball, but other then that it also might help if Mac takes a long hard look at his overall program and accepts a little humility that things are great right now.

  7. Buffs fought. Nice day, good atmosphere.

    Yes, there were mistakes but coaches/leaders did not set team members up for success. I was totally disgusted by the leadership failure with 38 seconds left to go in the first half. 3rd down, Buffs down 14-0, deep in their own end. What should the play call be? A run? To consume clock and go into half, knowing that Buffs have the ball coming out in the second half and can cut it to a one possession game? Take a shot down the field? Instead, what happens? Pick six. Whoever called that play had no situational awareness and let down his QB and the entire team. I expect that Montez will be thrown under the bus for his pick six. He should have NEVER been put in that situation. Who called that play? That is where the responsibility belongs. I would like to know as I am quite fed up with the offensive play calling and having Mac gloss it over and blame it on the players. Will we hear who it was? I doubt it. CU would probably have lost the game anyway against a more talented USC team but that play changed the complexion of the game more than any other play.

    Unfortunately, its this type of play calling that lowers my confidence that Buffs can pull out a win against Utah. Mac talks about leading young men and prides himself on that. Well, he should ensure that he and his coaches are doing their best to put them in positions to succeed. He has two weeks to do it or he will look like a total failure going from Coach of the Year to Coach with No Bowl, one of 50 teams out of 130 without a bowl. Mac, time to get it together.

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