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Buffs Begin Preparations For Pac-12 Showdown With USC

Nov 23, 2020

CU Football Notes

BOULDER — Rested and ready.

After an unplanned "bye week," Karl Dorrell's 2-0 Colorado Buffaloes are back in game week mode, preparing for their biggest game so far of this young season — Saturday's 1:30 p.m. matchup against No. 19 Southern California (3-0) at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

The Buffs were scheduled to play Arizona State over the weekend, only to see a coronavirus outbreak at ASU cancel the game. USC, meanwhile, played its best overall game of the season, knocking out a 33-17 win at Utah.

Now, the two will be squaring off with the Pac-12 South lead at stake.

"We have a great opportunity in front of us," Dorrell said at his weekly press conference Monday. "They're undefeated and they're playing well."

While not having a game last Saturday did help the Buffs in a variety of ways — most notably healing up some injuries as well as giving CU coaches a chance to get young players some more critical reps in practice — Dorrell said there was also a downside to being on the sidelines for the weekend.

"We're one week out of rhythm," he said. "When you're winning and you're going from week to week, it's sometimes great to just stay in rhythm to what you're doing. But unfortunately that didn't occur for us."

Now, the Buffs want to crank that momentum back up and build off their first two wins as the stakes get a little bigger each week.

"There's a lot of ramifications about this game," Dorrell said. "It's a shortened season and we're just trying to maximize our chances. We're hoping to be a factor in this thing. That was our goal in the very beginning, to be in the thick of it when the games mattered most. We have to step up to the challenge and prepare and get ourselves ready for a great fight this weekend and hopefully continue to play well and pull out some wins."

FIRST LOOK USC: The Trojans had two narrow escapes in their first two games, including an improbable comeback win against Arizona State that included two touchdowns sandwiched around a recovered onside kick in the final three minutes of a 28-27 win. A week later, they scored with just 25 seconds remaining to defeat Arizona, 34-30.

But against the Utes, they seemed to be clicking on all cylinders. The defense recorded five takeaways and three sacks while shutting the Utes out in the second half. The offense, meanwhile, took advantage of the extra opportunities, with quarterback Kedon Slovis throwing for 264 yards and two touchdowns.

"They played well from start to finish," Dorrell said. "I felt the defense played pretty inspired and made some plays early in the game that created some momentum for the offense and I thought the offense did a nice job with managing the opportunities they had. Their quarterback is an excellent player. You can tell he has a great sense of what his offense does and he operates it very well."

BUFFS BITS: Colorado is looking to open Pac-12 play 3-0 for the first time since joining the conference … Colorado's run defense has been stellar thus far, especially against opposing tailbacks, who have combined to gain just 101 yards on 30 carries in the first two games. Opposing quarterbacks have had more success, rushing 15 times for 144 yards … After giving up eight plays of 20 yards or longer in the opening win over UCLA, the Buffs cut that number in half in their win over Stanford, yielding just four "explosive" plays … CU has scored in all eight quarters thus far … Injuries have no doubt taken their toll thus far, as CU's most-recent depth chart has two walk-ons — C.J. Schmanski at tight end and Curtis Appleton at star — atop their positions.

Contact: Neill.Woelk@Colorado.edu