Tom Daniels of the insiders USC previews the CU vs USC game. Get the inside information on what they are saying about the game in So Cal.
|USC vs Colorado game preview
By Tom Daniels
Date: Sep 12, 2002
USC is balanced and will be the best team Colorado has faced this year. However, the same can be said for the Buffaloes against the Trojans. Colorado is a better team than Auburn. They have an outstanding defensive front seven and run a similar defense (nickel package) as SC's by cheating the safety up like a linebacker. Their running game is probably the best in the nation and if you think they will be hindered by starting Robert Hodge, think again
THE REAL THUNDERING HERD FEATURES NO BUFFALOES
The legend of Trojan Football - black shoes and grey facemasks, claiming more National Championships and Heisman Trophies in one program, than some entire conferences can hope to boast. Allen, Banks, Budde, Cunningham, Lott, Simpson, Munoz, McKay and Goux, all gridiron heroes who left body and soul on the floor of the Coliseum in the pursuit of greatness.
Some say Trojan Football is just that, a legend, told from a story long ago. But there's a new Trojan hero, going by the name of Polamalu, Palmer, Mackenzie, Holmes, Cody, Kelly, Colbert, Matua, Grootegoed, Riley, Rogers, Patterson, and Pollard. All have that fire in their eye and the hunger to burn their own legend in the history book that tells the tale of Trojan Football...
On September 14, 2002 the USC Trojans square up against the Buffaloes of the University of Colorado and go to war. Three point stance, twitching fingers, eyes darting, legs churning and bone shattering hits...all from the legend and all awakened on one glorious fall afternoon. In the history of this battle, USC has never lost. The last victory, in 2000, was championed by now, fifth year senior quarterback; Carson Palmer coupled with a relentless SC defense that ran the Buffaloes into the ground. Two years later both Palmer and his defense are vastly improved. The question is, as they charge into Big 12 country, how will they match up against a Colorado team aching to establish their own football legacy.
Prior to the beginning of the season, most football prognosticators and armchair quarterbacks saw this game as the Trojan's toughest of their non-conference schedule. Now, through two games and one starting quarterback, the Buffaloes aren't looking as rough and ready as they once appeared. USC should beat No.18 Colorado on Saturday, but so what? They've never lost to the Buffs in four games -- outscoring them 98-21 in the process. And Colorado, after losing their opening game to the in-state rival Rams, went on to trample the lowly San Diego State, but not before the Aztecs put up an impressive air attack and clobbering Colorado's starting quarterback Craig Ochs into next week. So, despite the follow-up victory, major setbacks were experienced. Colorado now finds itself, not only having to replace Ochs, but also needs to solve the problems of a porous secondary. Having used a dime package against San Diego and playing six defensive backs, Head Coach Gary Barnett thinks that's no longer an issue. The Buffs got outstanding play from true freshman safety J.J. Billingsley and feel like they actually have depth. But they also realize that, like SC, they graduated two key players from last years secondary and are now facing a team that can really pass and, despite their opening game stats of 84 rushing yards, can do it on the ground as well.
USC is balanced and will be the best team Colorado has faced this year. However, the same can be said for the Buffaloes against the Trojans. Colorado is a better team than Auburn. They have an outstanding defensive front seven and run a similar defense (nickel package) as SC's by cheating the safety up like a linebacker. Their running game is probably the best in the nation and if you think they will be hindered by starting Robert Hodge, think again - this young man threw for over 6000 yards in two seasons at El Camino City College and is a fifth year senior. Yes, he will make some mistakes and yes, Troy Polamalu will haunt his dreams for weeks after, but he will also be effective and very elusive. For those who don't remember Barnes of Ucla, the walk-on from UCSB, coming in and tossing for 400 yards, I hate to remind you, but let's just say "stuff happens" that normally never should, but that is the beauty of college football. Hodge's father has been in town visiting his son for two weeks so he could catch the Buffalo's first three home games. His son, through an unfortunate incident gets his first start in a marquee game and Colorado has fallen like a rock from the top ten to nearly forgotten - better believe they have something to prove. The other factor that many have not noticed about this Buffalo team is that the squad (nearly 70%) is laden with juniors and seniors. This is an experienced team that has faced some serious foes. They will not be overwhelmed and just lay down when SC takes the field - no, this is going to be a heavy hitting war.
Last year, the Buffaloes allowed just 130 yards rushing and only 230 yards passing per game. Granted the Big 12 isn't know for it's air attack, but when you look at the numbers on the ground, it's clear Colorado's defense controlled most of their games. Expect them to move the safety up, use him like a backer and stack the line - challenging SC to throw. Against a team like the Trojans this could be a "live by the sword, die by the sword" scenario. Carson Palmer looks to have finally filled the giant sized shoes given to him by the media and fans four years ago, as the wunderkind - the Trojan's Goldenchild. If the Trojans can add a touch more on the ground, keep their receivers and tight ends from dropping balls and basically play a near perfect game, they should come out on top. But if they allow the Buffaloes to maintain ball control, and Robert Hodge is able to challenge our young defensive backs by rolling out and dumping balls into the flats, USC could be in for a long day. Because once the defense is spread both Brown and Purify have the proven skills to take it to the house.
Yes, this will be both teams' greatest challenge this year. Personally, despite Colorado's relatively rough start, I still consider them our toughest opponent outside the conference. Notre Dame will be exposed this weekend by a good Michigan team. Playing in away, in a hostile, high-altitude, wet climate also isn't going to help the Trojan's cause. This game has the ear marking of a battle royale - a place from which heroes will be made and legends told.
In overtime USC 27 Colorado 24