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Buffaloes at a glance
Record: 5-0, 2-0 Pac-12
Last week: Defeated Arizona State, 28-21
Steven Montez, Jr.: 115-for-153, 1,420 yards, 11 TD, 2 INT
Sam Noyer, So.: 3-for-5, 14 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
Travon McMillian, Sr.: 84 att., 528 yards, 4 TD
Beau Bisharat, Jr.: 21 att., 143 yards, 0 TD
Steven Montez, Jr.: 32 att., 125 yards, 3 TD
Laviska Shenault, So.: 51 catches, 708 yards, 6 TD
KD Nixon, So.: 23 catches, 290 yards, 1 TD
Tony Brown, Jr.: 18 catches, 234 yards, 0 TD
LB Nate Landman, So.: 48 tackles, 6 TFL, 2 INT
DE Mustafa Johnson, So.: 37 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 10.5 TFL
LB Rick Gamboa, Sr.: 36 tackles, 1 INT
5 Buffs to watch vs. USC
DE Israel Antwine: A true freshman, he made a lot of noise in preseason camp, but has been the quietest of CU’s three starters up front (along with Javier Edwards and Mustafa Johnson). Coaches like how Antwine is playing, however, and he’ll need to be at his best against the strong front line of the Trojans.
RB Travon McMillian: He’s been playing very well, with four 100-yard games already. The Buffs need him to be able to run the ball this week, though. That has historically been a problem for CU against USC.
CB Chris Miller: Finally healthy he’s starting to play more on defense and is becoming a key part of the secondary. Against USC’s talented receivers, Miller is sure to face his toughest test to date.
LT William Sherman: The redshirt freshman has settled into a starting role and against the Trojans he’ll go against one of the top pass rushers in the conference: Porter Gustin, who has 7.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks already this season.
OLB Carson Wells: Losing Jacob Callier to a season-ending injury makes Wells much more important on the edge. He’s tied for the team led with six third-down stops and his five QB pressures is tied for second.
Bottom line for CU
Winning this game would be monumental for CU’s quest to win the Pac-12 South. A victory would give CU a two-game lead and the head-to-head tie-breaker on USC. And, with almost everyone else in the South have two conference losses, the Buffs would be firmly in the driver’s seat for the division crown.
Trojans at a glance
Record: 3-2, 2-1 Pac-12
Last week: Bye, defeated Arizona, 24-20 on Sept. 29
JT Daniels, Fr.: 100-of-167, 1,257 yards, 4 TD, 3 INT
Matt Fink, So.: 1-for-2, 3 yards
Aca’Cedric Ware, Sr.: 54 att., 335 yards, 3 TD
Stephen Carr, So.: 47 att., 276 yards, 1 TD
Vavae Malepeai, So.: 29 att., 154 yards, 6 TD
Amon-Ra St. Brown, Fr.: 25 catches, 396 yards, 2 TD
Tyler Vaughns, So.; 23 catches, 244 yards, 1 TD
Michael Pittman, Jr.: 11 catches, 209 yards, 1 TD
LB Cameron Smith, Sr.: 47 tackles, 5 TFL, 1 sack
OLB Porter Gustin, Sr.: 22 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks
S Marvell Tell III, Sr.: 21 tackles, 1 INT
5 Trojans to watch vs. CU
QB JT Daniels: Still developing as a true freshman, he shows flashes of brilliance. Eventually he could be a star, but he’s dangerous enough right now to hurt the Buffs.
OLB Porter Gustin: He wreaks havoc on blockers and quarterbacks. CU has to be aware of him at all times because he can make game-changing plays.
WR Michael Pittman: So far, he’s had a quiet season with only 11 catches, but they’ve gone for 209 yards (19.0 per catch). He had a big game, including a touchdown, against the Buffs last year.
LB Cameron Smith: First thing, watch to see if he’s playing. Head coach Clay Helton said Smith was “50/50” this week because of an injury. When healthy, he’s one of the best linebackers in the Pac-12.
RB Aca’Cedric Ware: Over the years, USC has dominated CU in the run game. The Trojans are sure to try to get him going early and often in this game.
Bottom line for USC
For the Trojans to defend their South title, this is almost a must win. Lose this one and the Trojans fall way behind CU in the race for the division. Win it and they are on control of the division going into the second half. This is the start of a critical three-game stretch for USC, which visits Utah next week and hosts Arizona State in two weeks.