LOS ANGELES -- It's slaughter day with Trojans serving as butchers.
Colorado is a 41-point underdog on the football field at Southern Cal. Conventional wisdom says the Buffs would need the heart, determination, execution and luck of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team, Buster Douglas, Nadia Comaneci and a Powerball winner combined to earn a victory over the No. 11 team in the country Saturday.
Even coach Jon Embree acknowledged this week his 1-5 team would have to play flawless football just to give itself a chance. In six previous tries, CU has never beaten USC on the gridiron.
So why not drift off to Fantasyland for a moment and imagine a miracle materializing in the Los Angeles Coliseum. Did we mention the Buffs have an 18-game losing streak on the road against ranked teams dating back to a 2002 win in this city over the Trojans' crosstown rival UCLA?
Perhaps this is how that miracle could happen:
On third down during the Trojans' first possession of the game, quarterback Matt Barkley connects with wide receiver Marqise Lee for a big gain, but the play is called back because an offensive lineman was called for holding CU senior Will Pericak. Barkley throws an incompletion on the next play and the punt team runs on the field.
Colorado freshman Kenneth Crawley has flirted several times this season with making a big return. He gathers the ball in around his 30-yard line, makes two Trojans miss and sprints to the end zone for the first positive SportsCenter moment of his career. The Buffs stun USC and a crowd of more than 93,000 by taking an early 7-0 lead.
Using a well-designed and creative group of scripted plays, the CU offense continues to surprise, moving the ball down field efficiently and getting into the end zone with a trick play that covers 29 yards with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter. Embree throws another curve to Lane Kiffin by going for two.
For the second time in a month, CU quarterback Jordan Webb walks into the end zone on a quarterback draw to make it 15-0.
The second quarter is all USC with Barkley connecting on two touchdown passes of 17 and 36 yards to wide receiver Robert Woods, but the Trojans fail on a 2-point try of their own and it's 15-13 at halftime.
The Buffs use a 30-yard reception by tight end Nick Kasa and a roughing the passer call on USC to set up a 40 yard field goal from Will Oliver to make it 18-13 early in the second half. Embree gets bold once again and the Buffs recover an onside kick cleverly pooched down the middle of the field.
Freshman Gerald Thomas scores on a 21-yard pass midway through the third quarter after a pass interference penalty nullified a USC interception. The Buffs are now up 25-13 and palms are getting sweaty in the Coliseum.
Barkley leads the Trojans on a touchdown drive on the next possession, but CU makes them earn it with Redd's 1-yard plunge coming on the final play of the third quarter. It's 25-20.
CU freshman Marques Mosley recaptures the momentum and settles down the crowd with a 50-yard kickoff return, giving the Buffs the ball at midfield. The CU offense reverts to how it has played much of the first half of the season and is forced to punt.
But punter Darragh O'Neill comes through with one of his best efforts to date, putting the ball out at the 1-yard line.
The Trojans dig their way out and appear to be on the move when blitzing linebacker Jon Major gets through and tips a Barkley pass that is intercepted by safety Ray Polk, who is back in action for the first time since the season opener.
The Trojans are averaging 10 penalties a week and the problem rears up once again with a second pass interference call giving the Buffs a first down at the USC 35. The drive stalls three plays later, but Oliver kicks a 46-yard field goal and it's 28-20 with 8 minutes left.
Colorado gets its last big break of the day when USC tight end Xavier Grimble gets loose down the middle of the field but a big hit from Polk forces a fumble recovered by linebacker Derrick Webb.
The CU offense gets two big third-down conversions on catches from wide receivers Tyler McCulloch and Nelson Spruce to eat some clock, but the Buffs are forced to punt once again with 4 minutes left.
Barkley leads the Trojans down the field and connects with Lee on a touchdown pass in the final minute from 12 yards out. USC has to go for two to tie the game and force overtime, but Pericak gets a hand up to knock down Barkley's pass for Woods in the back of the end zone.
An onside kick fails and the Buffs celebrate wildly. Webb kneels in the victory formation. The college football world is stunned.
"You have to play error free really on both sides," Embree said this week when asked for a recipe for upsetting the Trojans. "Then you have to be able to take advantage of opportunities as they come."
It's been a long time since the Buffs' last miracle (at Michigan, 1994).
Perhaps today is their day.
Now back to nonfiction.
Follow Kyle on Twitter: @KyleRingo