Buffaloes at a glance
Record: 5-5, 2-5 Pac-12
Last week: Lost at Arizona State, 41-30
Steven Montez, So.: 187-for-300, 2,404 yards, 16 TD, 7 INT
Sam Noyer, Fr.: 13-for-27, 119 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
Phillip Lindsay, Sr.: 263 att., 1,334 yards, 12 TD
Steven Montez, So.: 106 att., 267 yards, 2 TD
Beau Bisharat, So.: 21 att., 61 yards
Bryce Bobo, Sr.: 48 catches, 527 yards, 5 TD
Shay Fields, Sr.: 45 catches, 619 yards, 4 TD
Devin Ross, Sr.: 38 catches, 468 yards, 2 TD
LB Rick Gamboa, Jr.: 103 tackles (36 solo)
LB Drew Lewis, Jr.: 99 tackles (37 solo)
S Evan Worthington, Jr.: 68 tackles (55 solo)
How the Buffs rank nationally:
Scoring: 70th (28.0)
Rushing: 64th (165.2)
Passing: 44th (255.4)
Total: 50th (420.6)
3rd downs: 41st (42.7%)
Red zone: 48th (86.8%)
Scoring: 68th (26.6)
Rushing: 103rd (199.3)
Passing: 85th (240.1)
Total: 102nd (439.4)
3rd downs: 92nd (42.9)
Red zone: 69th (84.2%)
Penalties: 78th (6.50)
Turnover margin: 48th (plus-0.30)
3 questions facing CU
1. How will the Buffs bounce back?
Just like two weeks ago, the Buffs are coming off a crushing loss, but the 41-30 defeat at ASU may have been the toughest of the year, because the Buffs had it and let it go. Two weeks ago, the Buffs responded with their best game of the season. If they can have the same type of response this week, they'll be in good shape.
2. Can Steven Montez keep rolling?
On Oct. 21 at Washington State, Montez was benched at halftime, and then spent the next week fighting for his job. He's responded with two of his best games of the year. The Buffs need him to keep playing at a high level with his decision making and accuracy if they are to have a shot against the Trojans
3. Will the defense be able to stop the run?
That's a weekly question with this team, because the Buffs have struggled with it so much. Arizona State came into last week as one of the worst rushing teams in the country and racked up a stunning 381 yards on the ground. USC and Ronald Jones won't be easy to stop.
Bottom line: The Buffs certainly aren't expected to win this game, but they need it. With just two games left, the Buffs need to win one to reach bowl eligibility. Playing at home, this might be their best shot to get that win. CU likely has to play its best game of the year to win.
Trojans at a glance
Record: 9-2, 6-1 Pac-12
Rankings: No. 11 CFP; No. 15 AP; No. 14 Amway Coaches
Last week: Beat Arizona, 49-35
Sam Darnold, So.: 222-for-349, 2,869 yards, 22 TD, 11 INT
Matt Fink, Fr.: 6-for-9, 43 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
Ronald Jones II, Jr.: 159 att., 1,082 yards, 13 TD
Stephen Carr, Fr.: 55 att., 319 yards, 3 TD
Vavae Malepeai, Fr.: 43 att., 242 yards, 0 TD
Deontay Burnett, Jr.: 63 catches, 832 yards, 8 TD
Tyler Vaughns, Fr.: 41 catches, 537 yards, 4 TD
Steven Mitchell, Sr.: 31 catches, 431 yards, 4 TD
LB Cameron Smith, Jr.: 83 tackles (40 solo)
S Marvell Tell, Jr.: 66 tackles (32 solo)
OLB Uchenna Nwosu, Sr.: 55 tackles (30 solo)
How the Trojans rank nationally:
Scoring: 28th (35.2)
Rushing: 34th (201.2)
Passing: 22nd (291.2)
Total: 14th (492.4)
3rd downs: 28th (44.8%)
Red zone: 116th (73.8%)
Scoring: 69th (26.7)
Rushing: 72nd (171.7)
Passing: 65th (221.5)
Total: 64th (393.2)
3rd downs: 40th (34.7%)
Red zone: 5th (70.3%)
Penalties: 107th (7.50)
Turnover margin: 75th (minus-0.10)
3 questions facing USC
1. Can the Trojans protect the ball?
This season, USC has racked up 21 turnovers, which ranks 122nd nationally. The Trojans had multiple turnover in each of their first eight games, losing twice and allowing several other teams to stay close. They've had just one turnover in each of the last two games. Keeping the turnovers down will help the Trojans pull away.
2. How many yards will Ronald Jones II wind up with?
Running backs have feasted on Colorado's defense all season, and Jones is arguably the best back the Buffs have faced this season. Jones is on a roll of late, and he could be in store for a big, big day.
3. Will the defense come through?
USC's defense given up plenty of points and yards this season, allowing 30-plus points four times and over 400 yards on four occasions. CU's offense is very capable of hitting both of those numbers. USC will need to keep those numbers down.
Bottom line: This is a huge game for the Trojans, who can clinch the Pac-12 South title with a victory in one of their last two games. While there is some margin for error in that regard, the Trojans are also sitting at No. 11 in the College Football Playoff rankings. While they are a long shot to get into the playoffs, there's still a chance and they can't afford to lose.