No. 15 USC can wrap up Pac-12 South title at Colorado
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Colorado wrapped up a Pac-12 South title on home turf a season ago. Now, the Buffaloes are trying to prevent a similar thing from happening this November at Folsom Field.
No. 15 Southern California (8-2, 6-1 Pac-12, No. 11 CFP) can clinch its side of the conference with a win over Colorado on Saturday or if Arizona and Arizona State both stumble. There’s also plenty on the line for the Buffaloes (5-5, 2-5), who need one more win to become bowl eligible for a second straight season.
“It’s senior day there ... fighting for bowl eligibility. I bet they’d love to do it against the Trojans,” USC coach Clay Helton said. “We’re going to get their best effort.”
For 21 Colorado seniors, this will be the final time running behind live mascot Ralphie in Boulder.
That’s a powerful incentive.
So is knocking off USC, which Colorado’s football team has never done in program history. The Trojans are 11-0 all-time against the Buffaloes and have outscored them by a 381-145 margin.
“You understand who USC is, their tradition, their history, their dominance,” Colorado offensive lineman Jonathan Huckins said. “I don’t think we really think about that too much unless someone brings it up. ... Don’t worry about the logo on their helmet. Just worry about your assignment and your technique.”
For the Trojans, the attention is on capturing a conference title — nothing more. Although, they did move up six spots this week to No. 11 in the College Football Playoff rankings.
“It’s still so early in November, so many games to be played and decisions to be made,” Helton said. “It’s nice to be thought of that way.”
Things to know as the Trojans travel to Boulder, where it’s supposed to be a mild 50 degrees on game day. The Trojans haven’t played in the snow since Nov. 30, 1957, at Notre Dame:
DANDY DARNOLD: Trojans sophomore QB Sam Darnold is 17-3 as a starter and has thrown for 200 or more yards in 19 games. He already checks in at No. 8 on USC’s career passing list with 468 completions.
“We have a lot of great quarterbacks in this league and a lot of guys that have played in the NFL at the quarterback position, but he’s extremely athletic,” Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said. “His athleticism pops out.”
TAILBACK U: Ronald Jones II has rushed for 1,082 yards this season to become the first tailback with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons since LenDale White in 2004-05. Jones is 19 yards away from surpassing Reggie Bush for seventh place on the school’s all-time rushing list.
“You looked at a great runner coming in here as a freshman. Now, you’re looking at a guy that can catch out of the backfield ... has learned how to pass protect at a high level,” Helton said in an interview on Trojans Live. “He’s really become an every down back.”
LINDSAY’S MARK: Colorado senior tailback Phillip Lindsay needs 374 yards over the next two games to supplant Eric Bieniemy as the school’s all-time leading rusher. Lindsay is averaging 133.4 yards per game.
“He’s been a great player in our league for many years now,” Helton said. “They lean on him. When he’s going, their offense is going.”
SENIOR DAY: Senior safety Afolabi Laguda still can clearly recall his first encounter with Ralphie before a game.
“I was kind of nervous, I didn’t really trust the handlers, I didn’t think they could get her around the field and into whatever they put her in,” Laguda said. “So I kind of trickled to the back and let other people run out first, but I still remember that. My heart was beating faster for Ralphie than for the game.”
LA LA LAND: MacIntyre maintained that beating the Trojans would carry a lot of weight for the Buffaloes in their recruitment of players from the Los Angeles area.
“It’s a fertile, fertile recruiting ground,” MacIntyre said. “That’s one of our big recruiting areas. Within USC and, counting out traffic, a two-hour radius, there’s 100 or more Pac-12, big-time football players within driving distance of their campus. It would make a big difference for us.”
For more AP college football coverage: www.collegefootball.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_Top25