CU opponent glance

Opponent: USC Trojans

Game time: 8:30 p.m. Saturday, at Los Angeles Coliseum

Coach: Clay Helton, 4th season (30-12)

This season: 3-2, 2-1 Pac-12

Last week: Bye; defeated Arizona, 24-20, on Sept. 29

Key players: RB Stephen Carr, So. (47 att., 276 yards, 1 TD; QB JT Daniels, Fr. (100-of-167, 1,257 yards, 5 TD, 3 INT); OLB Porter Gustin, Sr. (22 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks); RB Vavae Malepeai, So. (29 att., 154 yards, 6 TD); WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (25 catches, 396 yards, 2 TD); LB Cameron Smith, Sr. (47 tackles, 5 TFL); S Marvell Tell III, Sr. (21 tackles, 1 INT, 2 PBU); WR Tyler Vaughns, So. (23 catches, 244 yards, 1 TD); RB Aca'Cedric Ware, Sr. (54 att., 335 yards, 3 TD).

Notable: The Trojans have won two in a row since losing back-to-back games to Stanford and Texas. ... USC has won 10 straight against Pac-12 South opponents, and is 18-4 against all conference foes since the start of the 2016 season. ... The Trojans rank 103rd nationally in scoring (24.6 points per game) and 67th in scoring defense (allowing 26.2 per game). ... Since losing back-to-back home games to Stanford and Washington early in the 2015 season, USC has an 18-game winning streak at the Coliseum.

It's been 91 years since Colorado first met the Southern California Trojans on the gridiron.

USC won that first meeting — on Nov. 12, 1927 — with ease, 46-7, and have never tasted defeat against the Buffaloes, going 12-0 against them.


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When the 19th-ranked Buffs (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) visit USC (3-2, 2-1) on Saturday night, however, they might carry their highest level of confidence ever into a matchup with the Trojans.

Colorado battled past Arizona State, 28-21, on Saturday to remain the only undefeated team in the conference. The Buffs also insist they'll remain focused.

"The attention only comes if we keep winning," linebacker Rick Gamboa said. "The focus we have is worrying about the team we have in front of us. We are playing in the Pac-12 and it is one of the best conferences in the country. It has some of the best teams in the country. You can't overlook anyone from top to bottom."

Over the next two weeks, the Buffs will take aim at the top. USC is the defending Pac-12 champion and can seize control of the South by beating the Buffs. On Oct. 20, CU will visit No. 7 Washington (5-1, 3-0).

"They're going to be huge games," quarterback Steven Montez said. "USC and Washington are two very good teams that are playing very well right now. We just have to approach it exactly how we've been approaching it all year. We're going to come in Sunday, watch the film, kind of flush this game out of our system and then on Monday we're right back to work and we're scheming for USC.

"It's just another week for us."

Beating ASU wasn't like the other wins for CU, though.

Going into last week, the teams CU had defeated were a combined 1-16. Beating ASU (3-3, 1-2) and winning the physical battle against the Sun Devils was a big step for CU.

"It is really important to show that," running back Travon McMillian said of beating a team with a winning record, "but we're not satisfied. We are going to keep going to work each and every day.

"It is exciting and we're going to enjoy it, but we know we have another opponent next week we are going to have to prepare for."

USC, which will be the most talented team CU has faced, presents a different set of challenges for the Buffs — including the mental hurdle of having never defeated the Trojans.

This CU team, however, is different from the 12 others that faced the Trojans over the years. McMillian says the Buffs will be ready.

"Every week we face new challenges," he said. "We know that we have a really good USC team that we're going to have to beat.

"(Starting 5-0) gives us a lot of confidence as a team, but we have to stay humble and stay grounded and not get satisfied. We have the guys on this team to do that. As long as we have that mindset each and every week and attack our opponent each and every week, we'll be successful."

Notable

This will be just the third time in 13 meetings that CU will face USC as a ranked team. It'll be just the fourth time that USC is not ranked. ... CU has allowed a national-low three points in the fourth quarter — on a Colorado State field goal during the Buffs' 45-13 win on Aug. 31. ... McMillian has rushed for 100-plus yards four times in the first five games. The last Buff to do that was Rashaan Salaam, during his Heisman Trophy-winning season in 1994.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.