Friday Fast Facts – USC Week

Big Picture … 

— Colorado will honor Michael Westbrook on Saturday (between first and second quarters) for his election to the College Football Hall of Fame.

— “I knew I had been on the ballot, and you anticipate getting in, but you never expect it so I kind of let my guard down a bit,” Westbrook said in a Colorado release after the announcement in March, 2020. “Then I got the package from the Hall of Fame, and I’m like, ‘Wow!’ I think back to those days, and it was such an awesome time in our lives. You couldn’t ask for a better situation to go through and succeed in. We had quality coaches, a great support staff and awesome teammates. Beginning with Coach Mac when he came to my high school and recruited me on the spot when he was there looking at someone else.”

— A consensus First Team All-American in 1994, Westbrook received the Touchdown Club of Columbus Paul Warfield Trophy as the nation’s top wide receiver. A two-time First Team All-Big Eight performer, he became only the third CU receiver to earn all-league honors and the first to be selected twice. An AP Second Team All-American in 1992, he led the Buffs to four bowl berths, including wins in the over Fresno State (1993 Aloha) and Notre Dame (1995 Fiesta).

— Westbrook becomes the eighth Buff player in the College Football Hall of Fame, joining Bobby Anderson (1967-69), Dick Anderson (1965-67), Herb Orvis (1969-71), Joe Romig (1959-61), Byron “Whizzer” White (1935-37), Alfred Williams (1987-90) and John Wooten (1956-58). Coach Bill McCartney, who guided Colorado from  1982-94, is also in the Hall.

— The game has been designated as a Blackout game, despite the noon kickoff;

— With Colorado four games into the 2021 season, the Buffs have reached the cut off for players to leave without losing a year of eligibility. Colorado lost two defensive linemen this past week, with Lloyd Murray and Blayne Toll entering the transfer portal. Murray played in 43 plays over two games, with one tackle. Toll, a transfer from Arkansas, was in for 32 plays over three games, recording three tackles.

— The game will be telecast nationally on the Pac-12 Networks (Saturday, 12:01 p.m., MT), with Ted Robinson on the play-by-play, and Yogi Roth on color. KOA radio will have Mark Johnson, in his 18th year with the play-by-play, and former CU head coach Gary Barnett in his sixth year as the full-time analyst.

 

CU & USC … 

— USC has an 14-0 advantage in the all-time series against Colorado … Yup. That about sums it up;

The streak … The 14 straight losses to USC are the most against any team to start a series in CU history. In fact, Colorado has only had one stretch of losses which was longer, the 18-game losing streak to Nebraska (1968-85).

— When USC made its first trip to Boulder, in 1963, the Trojans came as the No. 1 team in the nation. USC got out with a 14-0 victory in a game which featured 313 yards of total offense – by both teams combined. (The Trojans lost to No. 3 Oklahoma, 27-17, the next week, to drop out of the top spot, going on to finish with a 7-3 record. The Buffs, in their first year under new coach Eddie Crowder, went on to finish 2-8, 2-5, for a sixth place finish in the Big Eight);

— After some ugly blowouts in the early games of the series, CU has made a game of it of late against USC, with the last five games decided by a total of 36 points, three of those losses by four points or less;

— Clay Helton was 5-0 against Colorado as the head coach at USC – interim coach Donte Williams, of course, is 0-0. Karl Dorrell, meanwhile, is 1-4 as a coach against USC (all five games when he was the head coach for UCLA). As a Bruins player, however, Dorrell was 4-1 in games played against USC (1982-86);

— USC is only of only three teams in the country to have already played three conference games. The other two are Illinois and North Carolina … and all three are 1-2 in conference play.

 

The Last time …

October 25, 2019 … USC 35, Colorado 31 … 

Game Story Senior quarterback Steven Montez set his 38th school record in starting his 32nd consecutive game, and for 45 minutes against USC, Montez looked like a hero. Montez threw for 324 yards and three touchdowns, running for a fourth, but it was not enough to keep Colorado from losing to USC for the 14th-consecutive time, falling 35-31 before 48,913 fans in Boulder.

The Trojans rallied from a ten-point fourth quarter deficit for the victory. USC quarterback Kedon Slovis hit wide receiver Michael Pittman for two touchdowns in the final 11 minutes – with the scores covering 44 and 37 yards – to take down the Buffs.

The Buffs had 520 yards of total offense to 518 for the Trojans, but couldn’t sustain drives in the fourth quarter. Laviska Shenault had nine receptions for 172 yards, including a 71-yard touchdown reception, but the effort was wasted as the CU defense failed to hold an opponent under 30 points for the 12th consecutive game.

Continue reading game story here

The Second-to-Last Time … 

October 13, 2018 … USC 31, No. 19 Colorado 20

Game story … USC freshman quarterback J.T. Daniels passed for 272 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Trojans to a 31-20 victory over No. 19 Colorado. Daniels hit wide receiver Michael Pittman for two of those scores late in the second quarter, taking a 7-7 game and making it a 21-7 halftime lead for the Trojans.

CU all-everything wide receiver Laviska Shenault led the Buffs in both rushing and receiving. Shenault had nine receptions for 72 yards, but was held without a receiving touchdown for the first time in the 2018 season. Shenault also had two carries for 46 yards, including a 49-yard scamper for a touchdown early in the second quarter, giving the Buffs a 7-0 advantage, the only CU lead of the game.

Steven Montez hit on 25-of-46 passes, well below his season average of over 75% completions. Montez had 168 yards passing, adding a 19-yard touchdown run late in the contest. Montez also threw a pick-six early in the third quarter, making it a 28-7 USC advantage.

Continue reading game story here

 

Statistically speaking … 

Something has got to give Department … The Colorado defense is 116th in the nation in forcing turnovers, coming up with only two in four games. The USC offense, however, has been atrocious at hanging on to the ball, giving up nine turnovers in the first three games (117th nationally);

Not going long … There have been only 23 plays of 20 yards or longer in CU games this season (seven by the Buffs; 16 by opponents). Neither CU or its opponents have posted a single gain of 40 yards or longer. CU’s longest play of the season to date was a 35-yard run by Ashaad Clayton v. UNC;

Not scoring early … Through four games, neither the Buffs nor their opponents have scored on their first drives of the game;

Fall forward (please) … The USC defense is 128th in the nation in both tackles for loss (3.0/game) and sacks (0.8/game);

—  How bad is the CU offense? … The only major offensive category in which the Buffs is not in the bottom five in the nation (between 125th and 130th nationally) is rushing offense – 79th (154.0 yards/game);

Betcha’ didn’t know … The CU player with the most rushing yards in a game against USC? Marcus Houston, who had 150 yards in the game played in 2000. The game, a 17-14 win for No. 11 USC in Los Angeles, was the highlight of Houston’s brief stint in Boulder.

 

Player Notes … 

— Punter Josh Watts is making a push for first-team All-Pac-12 status, and has been recently added to the Ray Guy Award watch list.  Watts has improved his gross average per kick by 7.65. Watts averaged 40.89 yard for 27 punts in 2020, and has increased his mark to 48.54 on 24 punts this season. He’s improved across the board – his net average is up exactly five yards (36.3 to 41.3); on punts from CU’s 25 and inside, it’s jumped 5.6 yards from 46.0 (4 kicks) to 51.6 (10); and on punts on CU’s side of the field, he’s improved 7.4 yards from 42.3 (23 punts) to 49.7 (21). He had three punts of 50 yards or longer last year, and already has 10 in 2021; and the opponent return average has dropped from 13.0 to 9.6;

The race to 1,000 had an anti-climatic finish … 56 players in CU history have now rushed for over 1,000 yards their careers, with Alex Fontenot joining the ranks with his four yards (on three carries) against Minnesota, giving him exactly 1,000 career rushing yards. Jarek Broussard had 966 career yards entering the Arizona State game, and joining the 1,000-yard club with a 35-yard effort against the Sun Devils. Talk about limping to the finish …

Hold that Line … After having 11 offensive linemen see action in the nightmare which was the Minnesota game, the Buffs used only six offensive lineman against Arizona State. Frank Fillip, considered one of CU’s best offensive linemen, had his first start of the season at right tackle. Jake Wray got his third consecutive start at left tackle, while Colby Pursell, who was out with an illness against Minnesota, returned to start at center. The guard positions are being manned by Kary Kutsch (all four starts at left guard) and Casey Roddick (started the last two games at right guard). Here’s hoping that some continuity along the line will help in upgrading the production of the offense …

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball … The Colorado defense has started the same 11 defenders in each of the past three games. In fact, 10 of the 11 positions have had the same starters in all four games. The lone exception? At strongside linebacker – Chris Miller started the opener against Northern Colorado (but has since been lost – again – for the season due to injury). Guy Thomas has started the last three games at the position;

— Much has been made (just ask offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini) of the fact that Colorado has only seven seniors. Small numbers of seniors, however hasn’t seemed to bother No. 3 Oregon (also with seven) or No. 13 BYU (with three);

Injury list … is no longer issuing the injury status for its players (do you miss “doubtful”, “questionable”, and “probable”? So do I). The list of players who have been lost for the season, however, is published, and it’s getting longer … Marcus Bell, WR; Jeremiah Doss, DT; Chris Miller, S/OLB; J.T. Shrout, QB; and Jaylen Striker, CB.

 

Pac-12 Notes … 

The Pac-12 is currently 16-16 in non-conference games. The last time the Pac-12 had a sub .500 overall record in non-conference games? Well, never. The only remaining non-conference games will be games USC and Stanford have scheduled against Notre Dame, as well as BYU v. Washington State and USC.

— From vegasinsider.comThe CU line has gone from an opening of 6.0 to 7.5 … 

  • USC at Colorado … USC a 7.5-point favorite … Saturday, noon, MT, Pac-12 Networks
  • Washington at Oregon State … Washington a 4.0-point favorite … Saturday, 7:00 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks
  • No. 3 Oregon at Stanford … Oregon an 8.0-point favorite … Saturday, 1:30 p.m., MT, ABC
  • Washington State at Cal … Cal a 7.0-point favorite … Saturday, 3:30 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks
  • Arizona State at No. 20 UCLA … UCLA is a 3.5-point favorite … Saturday … 8:30 p.m., MT, FS1
  • Idle … Utah and Arizona …

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