Game at a glance

Matchup: No. 15 Southern California Trojans (8-2, 6-1 Pac-12) at Colorado Buffaloes (5-5, 2-5)

Kickoff: 2:05 p.m. MT

Where: Folsom Field in Boulder. Capacity: 50,183; Turf: Grass.

TV: Fox

Radio: KOA (850 AM & 94.1 FM)

Odds: USC by 12 ½

Coaches: Colorado — Mike MacIntyre, 5th season (25-36; 41-57 career); USC — Clay Helton, 3rd season (23-9)

Series: USC leads 11-0 (5-0 in Boulder)

Colorado quarterback Steven Montez is still two years away from his senior day.

The sophomore is well aware of how significant Saturday's game is for his older teammates, however.

"As a young guy myself, I imagine when I was in high school and I was a senior, I wanted all the younger guys to do everything they could to get me a win and send me out the right way and just go out on a good note," Montez said this week. "That's how I look at it."

Montez and all the Buffs (5-5, 2-5 Pac-12) will strive to send the seniors out the right away on Saturday, when No. 15 Southern California (8-2, 6-1) comes to Folsom Field.

Although CU hasn't duplicated the success it had a year ago, the Buffs still have plenty to play for, including another trip to the postseason.

Just one more win is needed for the Buffs to reach bowl eligibility. Considering 80 out of 130 teams reach a bowl game, that may not seem too impressive, but considering CU's recent history, it'll be quite an accomplishment.


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CU has been to just two bowls in the last 11 seasons and hasn't been to back-to-back bowl games since 2004 and 2005.

The fact that this senior class has the chance to do it should be celebrated on Saturday as they play their final home game at Folsom Field.

Of the 21 seniors that will be honored on Saturday, nine of them signed with CU in the spring of 2013, when the Buffs were coming off a 1-11 season. Left tackle Jeromy Irwin signed with CU in the spring of 2012, as the Buffs were coming off a 3-10 campaign.

Most of the others came to CU in 2014, following the program's eighth consecutive losing season.

At the time of their arrival in Boulder, CU was regarded as one of the worst Power 5 teams in the country. Just a few short years later, anything less than a winning season is considered a disappointment.

In the last four years, this group of seniors has compiled a record of 21-28, which is the best four-year record at CU since 2004-07 (23-28), and raised the bar within the program.

"They've done a tremendous amount for the university, for our program, for the guys in our program," head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "I can't really put a value mark on it, because of what all they've done. When they came here it was a very hard time and a very, very low point in the program and they've made us extremely competitive all the time."

When the current seniors first got to CU, the Buffs were routinely blown out in Pac-12 games. Those blowouts have been rare the past three years. In fact, although the Buffs are just 11-14 in Pac-12 play the past three years, seven of the 14 losses have come by seven points or less.

In CU's first four seasons in the Pac-12, the Buffs went 4-32 in conference games, with 24 of those 32 losses coming by at least two touchdowns.

"Throughout the years since we've been here, we've slowly built," center Jonathan Huckins said. "That's a testament to how this team has evolved and built. Going from boys to men was a really a big thing Coach Mac stressed. I'm proud about how we've moved this program in the right direction."

Reaching a bowl game for the second consecutive season would be huge for a program that is still in rebuild mode.

It's not a bowl game that drives the seniors this week, however. It's beating USC for the first time ever, and it's striving to make their final game at Folsom Field one to remember.

"I've been here for a long time and I've still been trying to avoid leaving here," Irwin, a sixth-year senior, joked this week. "I'm sure it'll hit me senior night when my parents are out there and I'm running out with the bouquet in my hand. But right now we're just focused on winning. It's going to be my last game at Folsom, so I expect to play well and give it our last best effort."

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