Trojans persevere through adversity

Convincing 42-17 win at Colorado might be undersold given the unusual circumstances presented to USC.

It wasn't flashy, it wasn't perfect, but it was a win.

Less than a week removed from an emotional triple overtime loss to Stanford, that was all USC really wanted or needed.

No style points. No statements. Just a win.

They did just that with a workmanlike 42-17 effort over hapless Colorado, probably dramatically underselling the circumstances.

USC had only one practice in full pads to prepare. They were without a linebacker leading the team in tackles and a safety, their other starter there suspended for the first half. They were without two running backs, running on empty at cornerback with a walk-on and former walk-on backing up the two starters.

They had to travel into unfamiliar surroundings with snow piled up on the sidelines, no heaters against the chilly Rocky Mountain air.

And they left with a convincing win.

Quarterback Matt Barkley finally broke the school single-game record for passing touchdowns, as running back Amir Carlisle scooted into the end zone on a screen pass for score number six.

Barkley had tied the prior mark on three separate occasions, tossing five touchdowns against Hawaii and California last season and versus Syracuse this year.

The junior has now thrown 28 touchdowns this season, with an outside chance at tying Matt Leinart's single-season record of 38 now possible.

He showed his growth and improvement by evading the Colorado pass rush and calmly rolling to his right where he waited for Robert Woods to come free behind the secondary for a 45-yard score, the kind of play he couldn't have made last season.

It was the second touchdown of the night for Woods, a tally matched by Marqise Lee as the Gardena (Calif.) Serra sensations combined for 18 receptions and 254 yards.

The running game kept rolling as Carlisle and Curtis McNeal added 177 yards on their 20 carries.

Drew McAllister found his footing in the defensive backfield and came through with three tackles and a big stop for loss.

Special teams rediscovered their groove, blocking a pair of field goal.

But there were some glaring mistakes.

Barkley threw a bad interception at the end of the first half that could have given the desperate, floundering Buffaloes some life.

Lee dropped an easy touchdown. Fullback Rhett Ellison was injured after making a catch on the very next play.

The defense gave up plenty of yardage and got pushed around at times by a Colorado offense nowhere near comparable to the quality of competition left on the schedule. The changes at linebacker and safety resulted in a far too easy touchdown drive on the opening possession.

Maybe it's just too easy to pick apart the flaws against a team that in its first year in the Pac-12 might rank among the worst ever in conference history. Maybe it's underselling the circumstances USC was presented with and fought through.

They now have a chance to win 10 games, something no one outside of Los Angeles or Heritage Hall thought possible.

If that happens, no one is going to remember the specifics of this one.

It was a win, all anyone could ask for.


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