Colorado was just shellacked by one Top 10 team, and another is on its way on the rigorous Pac-12 schedule.
Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams and No. 8 Southern California arrive as the next test for the Buffaloes on Saturday in Boulder, Colo.
The Trojans (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) lead the nation in scoring offense at 55 points per game and are looking to pin another defeat on the Buffaloes (3-1, 0-1), who were routed 42-6 at then-No. 10 Oregon last weekend.
And Williams is playing like he wants to join Ohio State legend Archie Griffin (1974-75) as the lone two-time Heisman winners. He has completed 74.3 percent of his passes for 1,200 yards, 15 touchdowns and no interceptions. He has also rushed for three touchdowns.
Colorado coach Deion Sanders, a Hall of Fame cornerback at both the college and pro levels, was asked what he liked about Williams.
“Everything. The kid is a playmaker,” the man known as Coach Prime said. “He deserved the Heisman Trophy a year ago. … He makes plays. He makes that team go. He’s a handful.”
Williams was intercepted just five times in 500 passing attempts last season. The offseason goal was to see Williams become even more efficient with intermediate and deep throws.
So far, so good — Williams has been pick-free in 101 attempts.
“I for sure worked on it,” Williams said. “I thought I was pretty efficient last year, but this year … when you have those moments, and you have those big plays that come up, you want to be able to execute and capitalize in those moments. And we’ve been able to do that so far.”
Williams passed for 322 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two more scores in last weekend’s 42-28 road victory over Arizona State. A sluggish effort on defense led USC to drop three spots in the rankings.
The Trojans rank third in total offense (569.2 yards per game) and are also getting strong production from running back MarShawn Lloyd (349 yards, two touchdowns) and receivers Brenden Rice (12 catches, 257 yards, five touchdowns) and Tahj Washington (10-278-four).
Colorado, which is 0-16 all-time against USC, figures to have its hands full on defense.
The Buffaloes will be without two-way star Travis Hunter (lacerated liver) for the second straight game. Hunter’s strong play as a cornerback will definitely be missed against the Trojans’ high-powered passing game.
Safety Shilo Sanders is questionable, though his father, Deion, remains hopeful. When the team returned to Boulder after the loss to Oregon, Shilo Sanders was transported to a hospital because he was urinating blood.
“He’s doing much better,” Deion Sanders said Tuesday. “We’re praying that he heals and he’s playing this weekend. He’s a valuable part of our secondary and our team defensively.”
Offensively, quarterback Shedeur Sanders was sacked seven times against Oregon and has been dropped 22 times in four games. He passed for a season-low 159 yards after topping 300 in each of the first three games.
The offensive line has also struggled to help get the running game moving. The Buffaloes are last in the nation in both rushing offense (55.8 ypg) and yards per carry (1.91).
Troubles or not, USC coach Lincoln Riley has been paying attention to the early-season Colorado rise under Coach Prime. He said last week’s tough time in Eugene has nothing to do with what goes on this Saturday in Boulder.
“Whether (Colorado) won by a lot, lost by a lot, or anything in between, we’re gonna see a good football team at their home and those are always a challenge,” Riley said.
–Field Level Media
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