LOS ANGELES - No. 18 Colorado is commanding its share of national attention as one of 11 FBS unbeatens and the only one located west of the Mississippi River. The Buffaloes, though, are bracing for their first Pac-12 road test, which comes Saturday night at USC.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1. LINE: USC -7
The spotlight has shone the brightest on CU sophomore receiver Laviska Shenault, who’s become the first wideout to garner two Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week awards in the same season and is starting to gain some darkhorse Heisman Trophy traction. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Shenault leads the nation in receptions (10.2 per game) and receiving yards (141.6) while scoring 12 touchdowns, including four on the ground as the Buffaloes have effectively utilized him all over the offensive formation. Shenault scored all four of the Buffaloes’ TDs, including two on the ground, a week ago in a hard-fought 28-21 win over visiting Arizona State while catching a career-high 13 passes for 127 yards. USC, meanwhile, has rebounded from a 1-2 start with narrow Pac-12 wins over Washington State (39-36) and Arizona (24-20) and is only a half-game behind Colorado in the South Division standings.
ABOUT COLORADO (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12)
Shenault’s sensational start has overshadowed the strong play of several other Buffs, most notably junior quarterback Steven Montez, who ranks second in the conference in overall passing (284.0 yards), passing efficiency (174.24 rating) and total offense (309.0 yards). Montez has had a hand in 14 total TDs, including three rushing, while completing 75.2 percent of his passes and throwing only two interceptions in 153 attempts. Led by linebacker Nate Landman (9.0 tackles) and defensive end Mustafa Johnson (9 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks), Colorado ranks sixth in the conference in total defense (355.0 yards) and third in scoring defense (18.4 points).
ABOUT USC (3-2, 2-1)
The Trojans have the added advantage of having last week’s bye to prepare as they seek their 10th straight win over a South Division foe – a run that started in 2016. Freshman quarterback JT Daniels has had some early growing pains, throwing three interceptions and only one scoring pass in his first three games but he’s thrown for 438 yards and three TDs over the last two wins without a pick. Senior linebackers Cameron Smith (9.4 tackles), Porter Gustin (Pac-12-most 5.5 sacks) lead a defense which is allowing 26.2 points and 381.2 yards per outing.
1. USC has won all 12 meetings between the schools, including 38-24 and 21-17 victories the last two seasons.
2. The Trojans have won their last 18 games in the Los Angeles Coliseum, including 13 straight against Pac-12 foes.
3. In already matching its 2017 win total, Colorado is 5-0 for the first time since 1998.
PREDICTION: USC 27, Colorado 24
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