Colorado seeks land­mark Pac-12 South win at USC

The Mercury News - - Sports - News Ser­vice Re­ports

Josh Falo will look across the line of scrim­mage at some point tonight, and the USC tight end will be lined up against his brother, Colorado linebacker Nu’umotu Falo.

Yet this friendly sib­ling ri­valry won’t be the most im­por­tant thing on ei­ther brother’s mind when the 19th-ranked Buf­faloes (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) go for a his­toric vic­tory over the de­fend­ing con­fer­ence cham­pion Tro­jans (3-2, 2-1).

“I feel like it’s our big­gest game of the sea­son,” Josh Falo said. “I feel like it’s go­ing to be for first place in the Pac-12 South, and I feel like who­ever wins it is go­ing to win the Pac-12. Doesn’t get much big­ger than that.”

Both teams re­al­ize the stakes when they meet at the Coliseum, where the Tro­jans still haven’t lost in 18 games un­der head coach Clay Hel­ton.

Colorado is off to its best start in two decades, but the Buf­faloes re­al­ize they have to beat the big­gest pro­gram in the di­vi­sion to truly ce­ment them­selves as the fa­vorite for their sec­ond Pac-12 South ti­tle in three years. The Buffs might be the only un­beaten team be­tween South Bend, In­di­ana, and the Pa­cific Ocean, but the ex­tent of their growth into a cham­pi­onship-con­tend­ing pro­gram will be mea­sured un­der the lights in down­town LA.

“We’ve never beaten them. Just that right there is a lit­tle bit of mo­ti­va­tion,” Colorado quar­ter­back Steven Mon­tez said. “We go into this game like we’ve gone into these past five games . ... Ev­ery year is a new year, and so any­body can be beaten at any time. That’s how we looked at ev­ery sin­gle game we’ve played so far. We know we can be beaten as well.”

Both teams are pack­ing a wealth of of­fen­sive tal­ent into this show­down.

Mon­tez has one of the most in­trigu­ing part­ner­ships in col­lege foot­ball with big re­ceiver Laviska Shenault, who leads the na­tion in re­cep­tions (51) and yards re­ceiv­ing (708) af­ter a mon­ster game against Ari­zona last week.

The Buf­faloes have lost all 12 of the school’s pre­vi­ous meet­ings with USC, but the Tro­jans have never faced an un­beaten Colorado team out­side two sea­son open­ers in the 1960s.

Daniels used the Tro­jans’ week off to think about im­prov­ing his pocket pres­ence and his pre­ci­sion on deep balls. The 18-year-old who grad­u­ated a full year early from high school has passed for 1,257 yards with only four touch­downs and three in­ter­cep­tions. Daniels has just one 300-yard per­for­mance af­ter Sam Darnold put up eight last year. He is firmly en­trenched as USC’s starter, but hasn’t yet daz­zled for an en­tire game. Of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Tee Martin hinted the Tro­jans have a few new of­fen­sive wrin­kles com­ing out of their open date.

Other key games this week­end:

NO. 2 GE­OR­GIA (6-0, 4-0 SEC)

AT NO. 13 LSU (5-1, 2-1 SEC) >> Ge­or­gia is hop­ing to push its record to 7-0 for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive sea­son while also im­prov­ing its over­all record to 12-2 against SEC teams since 2016. These pro­grams have met 30 times pre­vi­ously, in­clud­ing three times in the SEC Cham­pi­onship Game (2003, 2005 and 2011). Ge­or­gia en­ters the game boast­ing the SEC’s top de­fense, but some­how the Bull­dogs are last in sacks (6.0). LSU, which lost to Florida last week, has won nine con­sec­u­tive games fol­low­ing a loss dat­ing back to 2015. NO. 7 WASH­ING­TON (5-1, 3-0

PAC-12) AT NO. 17 ORE­GON (41, 1-1 PAC-12) >> Wash­ing­ton looks to re­main un­de­feated in Pac-12 play while both teams con­tinue their pur­suit of Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off semi­fi­nal bids. The Huskies have won 19 of their past 22 con­fer­ence games, go­ing 2-0 against Ore­gon and outscor­ing the Ducks 108-24 dur­ing that stretch. Ore­gon quar­ter­back Justin Her­bert is av­er­ag­ing a Pac-12-best 8.98 yards per play this sea­son. Wash­ing­ton linebacker Ben Burr-Kir­ven leads the league in tack­les (74).

NO. 15 WIS­CON­SIN (4-1, 2-0

BIG TEN) AT NO. 12 MICHI­GAN (5-1, 3-0 BIG TEN) >> Wis­con­sin run­ning back Jonathan Tay­lor leads the Big Ten in rush­ing yards (849) and rush­ing touch­downs (8) while av­er­ag­ing 6.74 yards per carry this sea­son. He faces a huge chal­lenge from a Michi­gan de­fense that hasn’t al­lowed a 100-yard rusher since Ohio State on Nov. 25, 2017. The Wolver­ines are 2-5 against teams ranked in the Top 25 dur­ing the past two sea­sons, in­clud­ing 1-4 against teams from the Big Ten. Michi­gan has won five con­sec­u­tive games since a sea­son-open­ing loss to Notre Dame.

HUNTLEY PASSES, RUNS UTAH OVER ARI­ZONA >> Tyler Huntley threw for two touch­downs, ran for an­other and caught a 58-yard TD pass, lead­ing host Utah past Ari­zona 42-10. Utah (42, 2-2 Pac-12) led 35-0 less than two min­utes into the sec­ond half.

Chase Hansen sacked Khalil Tate by the an­kle late in the first quar­ter, and the Wild­cats’ quar­ter­back was vis­i­bly limp­ing af­ter that point. Ja­marye Joiner re­placed Tate for two se­ries be­fore giv­ing way to Rhett Ro­driguez, who threw for 226 yards and a 42-yard fourth-quar­ter touch­down to Cedric Peter­son for Ari­zona (3-4, 2-2).

SOUTH FLORIDA STAYS UN­BEATEN >> Coby Weiss made a 22-yard field goal with 2 sec­onds left, and No. 23 South Florida scored 17 points in the fi­nal 7:10 to beat host Tulsa 25-24.

Blake Bar­nett set up the win­ning field goal with a 32yard strike to Tyre McCants to the 5. Bar­nett scored on 1- and 12-yard runs to pull the Bulls (6-0, 2-0 Amer­i­can Ath­letic Con­fer­ence) within two with 2:10 to go, but was stopped on a two-point con­ver­sion run.

USF forced Tulsa (1-5, 0-3) into a three-and-out, giv­ing the Bulls the ball back with 1:03 re­main­ing on their own 43 with no time­outs left.

Jor­dan Cronkrite rushed for 151 yards for the Bulls.


Quar­ter­back Steven Mon­tez leads un­beaten Colorado into the Coliseum to­day to face USC in a key Pac-12 game.

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