Going against a athletic and speedy Southern California defense, the Colorado Buffaloes are going to need all the speed they can get.
They might have Jeremy Bloom available. Bloom, who broke his big toe returning a punt against San Diego State last weekend, practiced on Wednesday and Thursday and could be ready to go against USC Saturday.
Although he may not see time on offense, the Buffs could use Bloom's speed on punt returns. If he is not ready to go, the Buffs will put a variety of different players back including WR Derek McCoy, CB Donald Stickland and DB JJ Billingsley.
The Trojans come to Boulder for the time since 1963 and lead the all-time series 4-0. The last time these two teams met was in 2000, when Colorado basically beat themselves by turning the ball over and playing very poor special teams. A Mark Mariscal missed fieldgoal cost the Buffs a chance to win and USC marched down to kick the game winner with less than 30 seconds left. The Buffs lost 17-14.
The odds makers have CU as a two point favorite and all indications point to this being a very close game. The big intangible is of course how Sr. quarterback Robert Hodge plays in his first start for the Buffs.
Hodge transfered to CU in 2000 from El Camino College in California and although he did play in nine games last season for the Buffs, it was mostly on special teams. He did quarterback four drives in 2001, for a total of 25 yards. Hodge did not have great stats last weekend filling in for the injured Ochs. He finished with 2 completions out of 7 attempts for 8 yards and added 14 yards rushing. One key though is Hodge led the Buffs to two second half touchdowns (both by RB Chris Brown) and did not turn the ball over. He will have his hands full with a USC defense that is led by all-world safety Troy Palamalu.
So how have CU quarterbacks fared in their debuts for the Buffs? Well, going back to 1959, out of 36 games, the quarterbacks won their debuts 20 times and lost 16. Although they have only met four times in their storied histories, CU did have a QB make his debut against Southern Cal. In 1964, a unknown quarterback / golfer named Hale Irwin led the Buffs into So. Cal but unfortunately lost the game 21-0.