Week 8 - Colorado at USC

Posted Oct 18, 2012

Week 8 Fearless Prediction & Game Analysis - Colorado at USC

Colorado (1-5) at USC (5-1) Oct. 20, 6:00, Pac-12 Networks

Here's The Deal: USC is winning football games, three straight in fact since losing to Stanford on Sept. 15. How it gets those victories doesn't appear to be a major concern for Lane Kiffin or the coaching staff. The Trojans were supposed to be an offensive-minded squad that used the passing attack to overcome the shortcomings of the defense. Instead, it's Monte Kiffin's D that's been the star of the first half so far. No. 11 Troy gets this week's expected lay-up before the schedule veers into a much more dangerous neighborhood down the stretch. Barring a miracle turnaround, there'll be no postseason for Colorado for the fifth straight year. The final six games, instead, will be more about building some momentum for 2013, and getting a better look at those young players who'll help form the foundation of the future in Boulder.

Why Colorado Might Win: Outscoring the USC offense, once a daunting challenge, doesn't appear to be so impossible these days. The Trojans have slipped to seventh in Pac-12 offense, scoring no more than 27 points in three of the last four games. The Buffaloes will attempt to play ball-control by running Josh Ford and Tony Jones right at the USC defense. If Christian Powell can return from a deep thigh bruise, even better. It'll then fall on the right arm of QB Jordan Webb to make intermediate connections to TE Nick Kasa and WR Nelson Spruce.

Why USC Might Win: The Trojans aren't just better than the Buffaloes. They're better at every position. As Kiffin tones down the passing of Matt Barkley, it's helped unleash the potential of RB Silas Redd, who has responded with at least 150 yards on the ground. Where USC has really elevated as a program is on defense, where the team is allowing just 18 points a game. The back seven was always going to be terrific, but the play of the defensive line has been transformative for the program. Troy is an unexpected fifth nationally in sacks, enjoying regular pressure from a couple of newcomers at end, rookie Leonard Williams and JUCO transfer Morgan Breslin.

What To Watch Out For: One-time Heisman frontrunner Barkley has now thrown for less than 200 yards in a game three times … and USC has won all of them. In other words, the Trojans are cutting back on their number of throws by design, and because Redd is a valuable tool in his own right. The scary thing for opposing defenses is that when the team wants to unleash No. 7, they can do so knowing that receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods will be ready to make the most of the opportunities. The USC passing game isn't struggling as much as it's lying in the weeds until it's truly needed to ignite the offense.

What Will Happen: For what could be the final time this season, USC will get an opportunity to operate as if it's playing a preseason scrimmage, tinkering with the offense and defense, while getting valuable reps for the backups. Unless the Trojans completely lose their focus on Saturday afternoon, this one ought to be out of reach long before halftime, building a safe margin behind the balanced approach of Redd's running and the passing of Barkley.

CFN Prediction: USC 48 … Colorado 14
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) USC -40.5 O/U: 57.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Seven Psychopaths, 1 – Here Comes the Boom): 2.5