USC (3-2, 2-1) vs. No. 19 Colorado (5-0, 2-0)

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By J. Brady McCol­lough brady.mccol­lough@la­ Twit­ter: @BradyMcCol­lough

Satur­day, 7:30 p.m., Coli­seum. TV: FS1. Ra­dio: 710.

Mar­quee matchup

USC de­fen­sive backs vs. Colorado wide re­ceiver Laviska Shenault. For Buf­faloes fans who want to see Shenault be­come the school’s first Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner since Rashaan Salaam in 1994, Satur­day is their night — if it be­comes his night as it could. Colorado won’t have many stages like a na­tional broad­cast on FS1 against USC in the Coli­seum, the lat­est in­stall­ment of “Pac-12 Af­ter Dark,” to show­case its star re­ceiver. Shenault has ar­guably been col­lege foot­ball’s best play­maker, chal­leng­ing de­fenses on the out­side with his deep­ball skills and turn­ing in four touch­down runs out of the Wild­cat for­ma­tion in five car­ries. USC de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Clancy Pen­der­gast com­pared him to for­mer NFL wide re­ceiver An­quan Boldin, who was a quar­ter­back re­cruit at Florida State be­fore mov­ing to re­ceiver. Colorado coach Mike Mac­In­tyre will have new ways for Shenault to beat the Tro­jans, and it will be up to a USC de­fense that has been sus­cep­ti­ble to ex­plo­sive plays to con­tain him.

Get­ting of­fen­sive

USC (390.8 ypg/24.6

ppg): USC’s “three-headed mon­ster” of Aca’Cedric Ware, Stephen Carr and Vavae Male­peai got rolling in the Tro­jans’ wins over Wash­ing­ton State and Ari­zona. When Ware had to sit out against the Cougars to rest a sore knee, Male­peai and Carr com­bined for 155 yards. When Ware re­turned against Ari­zona, he rushed for 173 yards and two touch­downs, in­clud­ing a 69-yard run for a score. Colorado (490.6 ypg/37.8 ppg): Quar­ter­back Steven Mon­tez and Shenault get most of the at­ten­tion with good rea­son, but run­ning back Travon McMil­lian, a grad­u­ate trans­fer from Vir­ginia Tech, is just as much a part of the Buf­faloes’ suc­cess. McMil­lian runs hard be­tween the tack­les and has been able to keep de­fenses hon­est by av­er­ag­ing 105.6 yards per game on the ground.

Get­ting de­fen­sive

USC (381.2 ypg/26.2 ppg): The USC de­fense comes into the game a bit wounded. Lead­ing tack­ler Cameron Smith is ques­tion­able to play with a mild ham­string strain, and true fresh­man Palaie Gao­teote IV would see a lot of time in place of him. The Tro­jans got their third turnover of the sea­son against Ari­zona on their first in­ter­cep­tion. They are hop­ing to swing the field in their fa­vor a few more times this week.

Colorado (355 ypg/18.4 ppg): The Buf­faloes are led by line­backer Nate Land­man, who has 44 tack­les and two in­ter­cep­tions this sea­son. Colorado gets af­ter the quar­ter­back with Mustafa John­son, who has 9.5 tack­les for loss and 4.5 sacks.

Some­thing spe­cial

Af­ter hav­ing a field goal blocked and re­turned for a touch­down against Texas, USC has blocked field goals in con­sec­u­tive games. Jay Tufele’s block of a Wash­ing­ton State field-goal at­tempt sealed the Tro­jans’ 39-36 win.

Of note

USC quar­ter­back JT Daniels ranks fifth na­tion­ally in passes com­pleted of 40 or more yards with eight.

In­jury re­port

As of Thurs­day night, USC coach Clay Hel­ton put Smith’s odds of play­ing at “50-50 at best.” Porter Gustin (an­kle) said he ex­pects to play Satur­day. The Tro­jans may be with­out Tufele, who was a pas­sen­ger in a car ac­ci­dent dur­ing the week off.

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