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CU Buffs motivated by winless mark against USC Trojans

Trojans come to Boulder after home loss to Oregon State

Colorado receiver Dimitri Stanley, left, and his Buffaloes' teammates are eager to snap a 14-game losing streak against Southern California.
Timothy Hurst/Staff Photographer
Colorado receiver Dimitri Stanley, left, and his Buffaloes’ teammates are eager to snap a 14-game losing streak against Southern California.

Although he grew up in Southern California, Jack Lamb has no love for the USC Trojans.

An inside linebacker at Colorado, Lamb has an older sister who went to school at UCLA. Then, Lamb signed with Notre Dame and played for the Fighting Irish – a bitter rival of USC – from 2018-20.

“Oh, absolutely,” he said when asked if playing at Notre Dame made him conditioned to dislike USC. “Yeah, we were not fans of USC. My sister wound up going to UCLA for her undergrad and she’s older than me, so I was always born to hate USC that way too. We kind of had both sides of the house with all anger towards USC.”

Despite leaving Notre Dame this summer, Lamb will get a chance to see the Trojans (2-2, 1-2 Pac-12) again on Saturday, when they visit the Buffs (1-3, 0-1) for a matchup at Folsom Field (Noon, TV: Pac-12 Network).

“That was a really intense rivalry (between Notre Dame and USC),” said Lamb, who played in third-down packages during a 30-27 Irish win in 2019. “I’m glad to be able to rekindle that rivalry here.”

During his time at Notre Dame, the Irish went 2-0 against USC. For Lamb to get to 3-0, he will have to help CU do something it’s never done. The Buffs are 0-14 all-time against the Trojans. This will be the first matchup between the two teams since USC’s 35-31 win in Boulder in 2019.

“That would be awesome,” he said of trying to get the first win for CU against USC.

Although CU comes in riding a three-game losing streak, with an offense that has sputtered most of the year, that 0-14 mark is being used as a bit of motivation.

“It definitely leaves a big chip on our shoulder,” said receiver Dimitri Stanley, who has been a part of two losses to the Trojans. “I feel like everybody wants to change that and everybody is coming to work in order to change that. We had a really good day of practice (on Tuesday). I think everybody’s locked in, tired of losing, honestly, from these past three games. So this next game is a stepping stool to progress our season forward.”

Lamb said the winless mark against the Trojans has been a bit of a talking point this week as the Buffs prepare.

“That was mentioned a little bit in the team meeting this morning,” Lamb said. “I think that’s a chip on everybody’s shoulder.”

Although the Buffs are reeling, so are the Trojans, who fired head coach Clay Helton after a 42-28 loss to Stanford on Sept. 11. Under interim coach Donte Williams, they rallied to rout Washington State, 45-14, on Sept. 18, but then got rolled at home by Oregon State, 45-27, last weekend. It was Oregon State’s first win in Los Angeles since 1960.

“They’re dealing with an interim head coach right now and we’re like, ‘OK, we know that the emotions in that room are probably a little tense and we’ve got to take advantage of that and stop them early,’” Lamb said.

CU of course is dealing with its own emotions, but head coach Karl Dorrell has no problem using the 0-14 mark against the Trojans as motivation.

“I think there’s anything and everything right now that we’re trying to (use) to get ourselves to play better football week after week,” he said.

The Buffs know the task in front of them is a tough one, though, as USC is arguably the most talented team in the Pac-12 South.

From experience, Lamb is aware of the athleticism of the Trojans, who have the same quarterback (Kedon Slovis) that he faced in 2019.

“I think they have a really explosive offense,” Lamb said. “They’ve got good tight ends, so we’re gonna have to do a great job covering them, especially the linebacker position. They have great backs, too, so being able to cover up that run game (is key). They’re gonna pass first, but they’re gonna try to open up that run game with the pass, so just being able to plug everything up and be sound.”

CU hopes to get its offense rolling after scoring just 20 points over the last three games combined, but Dorrell and the players have said this week the morale is good as they welcome the Trojans to town.

“There’s things that we need to fix definitely,” Dorrell said. “There’s things that we need to grow and mature with some of our youth, but I think the morale is still pretty good. They want to win, they want to be successful. They see opportunities in front of them and we’ll keep more keep pressing forward.”

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