Boulder, Colo. – Before an estimated crowd of 54,032, Fox’s “Big Noon Kickoff” lived up to the hype. The eighth-ranked Trojans, led by quarterback and reigning Heisman winner Caleb Williams, defeated the Colorado Buffaloes in a game that was a tale of two halves at Folsom Stadium. The Trojans (5-0, 3-0 Pac-12) prevailed 48-41.
USC quarterback Caleb Williams continued to show why he is considered the best QB in college football today, completing 30 of 40 passes for 403 yards, six touchdowns, and one interception. Williams spread the wealth by throwing touchdown passes to five different receivers.
“The guy continues to perform for this team. So proud of his progress, and the rest of the team has to keep coming along,” said USC head coach Lincoln Riley during his post-game interview.
And Colorado head coach Deion “Primetime” Sanders agreed about the play of Williams, saying: “That kid is a flat-out baller.” And he would know, after all, game recognizes game.
And his son, Buffaloes quarterback Shedeur Sanders, a gunslinger he raised and coached, almost willed the Buffs to victory over the Trojans. Sanders never gave up, completing 30 of 45 passes for 371 yards and four touchdowns with one interception. He led the Buffaloes to touchdowns on four of their final five possessions. Here is a recap of the “Big Noon Kickoff.”
The USC offense was on fire in the first half, scoring touchdowns in their first seven possessions. They made scoring look so easy. MarShawn Llyod got the ball rolling with a 27-yard run. The extra point by kicker Denis Lynch was good, and the Trojans were up 7-0. The Buffaloes would attempt a Jace Feely 41-yard field goal that veered left. The score remained 7-0, USC.
With 2:30 remaining in the first quarter, Williams threw a 71-yard pass to Tahj Washington in a drive that took three plays and 77 yards. The kick by Lynch was good. Trojans – 14-0.
Before the end of the first quarter, Sanders is picked off by USC cornerback Christian Roland-Wallace, his second interception of the season.
On the first play of the second quarter, the Trojans would capitalize on a Buffaloes turnover. USC receiver Dorian Singer scored on an eight-yard pass from Williams. Lynch adds the extra point. The Trojans lead 21-0.
Colorado would respond with Jimmy Horn Jr. scoring on a 30-yard pass from quarterback Shedeur Sanders, putting Colorado on the board with 12:59 remaining in the second quarter; an extra point from kicker Alejandro Mata was good.
Trojans – 21, Colorado – 7.
The Buffaloes’ defense, Omarion Cooper, comes up with a big play, sacking USC quarterback Caleb Williams, who didn’t see him coming. The play pushes SC out of field goal range. The Trojans are forced to punt.
But wait, the Trojans special teams come back and block a Colorado punt attempt, setting up the Trojans at the Colorado 23-yard line. The Trojans would score twice, Mario Williams on a 24-yard pass from Williams and Brenden Rice on a 26-yard pass from Williams. The score favors the Trojans, 34-7. Denis Lynch would miss (a rare miss for him) on the Brenden Rice score. Shedeur Sanders would close out the half using his legs for a 25-yard run score and an extra point—the score at the half, Trojans – 34, Buffaloes -14.
The game looked to repeat the Buffaloes’ 42-6 loss to Oregon, as the Trojan defense forced Colorado to punt after a sack by Jamil Muhammad. With 7:14 remaining in the third quarter, USC receiver Brenden Rice scored on a six-yard pass, his second of the game. Lynch would kick the extra point, Trojans lead 41-14.
Buff’s would score on a two-yard touchdown, USC – 41, Buffaloes – 21. Caleb Williams gets picked off, but the play is called back as Colorado is called for pass interference. USC Jude Wolfe scores on a three-yard pass from Williams, followed by an extra point kick, Trojans lead 48-21.
With 5:50 remaining in the third quarter, Buffaloes’ Michael Harrison would score on a 21-yard pass from Sanders. The Buffs go for two; however, the two-point conversion fails—Trojans – 48, Buffaloes – 27.
The Colorado fans are pumped as the Buffs refuse to give up and begin to fight their way back. USC quarterback is intercepted, his first of the season. Colorado fans believe an upset is on the horizon. You can hear them shouting, “We believe.”
Buff’s Omarion Miller scores on a nine-yard pass from Sanders, with Mata kicking the extra point. Trojans fans wonder what’s happening as the scoreboard reads Trojans -48, Buff’s – 34. Miller, a freshman, had seven receptions for 196 yards. Coach Sanders called it a surprising performance from a player who had not played much in the previous games.
The noise in Folsom Stadium from the Colorado fans is deafening. Freshman Omarion Miller nearly breaks away for a touchdown; however, USC’s Domani Jones is not having it as he makes a diving tackle to bring the freshman down.
USC drives as Williams gets sacked, and the Trojans settle for a field goal attempt. Lynch misses as the effort goes right. With 1:43 remaining in the fourth, Buff’s receiver Jimmy Horn scores on a 16-yard pass from Sanders. Mata’s kick is good. The Trojans lead 48-41, but it’s a seven-point game, and the Buffs fans are going wild.
Colorado attempts an onside kick that USC recovers. The Trojans would hold on to win, 48-41.
USC wins, and quarterback Caleb Williams soaks in the win and recognizes the energy at Folsom Stadium.
“Deion and that team brought a lot of energy to Colorado, and it was great,” Williams said. “We love going on the road. It’s fun. It’s enjoyable. We came out with the win, which is the most important thing.”
Colorado’s head coach, Deion Sanders, attributed the loss to a lack of identity.
“What’s our identity?” said Sanders. “I don’t know who we are. I don’t know what we’re going to do. From practice to practice, I do, but we’ve got to translate that into the game. So, we’re still searching for our true identity.”
The Buffs are a team with 68 new scholarship players and finished the 2022 season 1-11. The loss drops Colorado to 3-2. They face Arizona State and Stanford in their next two matches. If they win these two games, it will be the first time the Buffs have won six games since 2016.
USC head coach Lincoln Riley admired the work of Coach Prime, saying:
“He’s done a great job. Look at the results. At the end of the day, our job as coaches is to do what’s necessary to help make these programs (successful) and give us an opportunity.
Finally, the game was not played in Tinseltown. Still, there were star sightings: the rapper DaBaby, former NBA stars and Hall of Famers Kevin Garnett, Keyshawn Johnson, and Paul Pierce, former NFL stars Michael “Playmaker” Irving, Terrell Owens, Warren Sapp, and DeSean Sanders.
The Trojans are 5 – 0 and ranked #7 in week six of the Coaches Poll and #9 in the AP Top 25 College Football standings. The Trojans face Arizona at home next Saturday.
The Men of Troy will face primary Pac-12 opponents in the upcoming weeks, games that will determine their place in the college playoffs.
Notre Dame currently ranked #10 on October 14.
Utah is currently not ranked on October 21.
Washington currently ranked #7 on November 4.
Oregon currently ranked #8 on November 11.