The Colorado Buffaloes were close on Friday night. Maybe not close to defeating the USC Trojans, but at least close to competing with them for a full 60 minutes. Taking solace in almost competing with your opponent isn't a great place to be as a program, but it's the reality for Colorado right now, and though the scoreboard doesn't reveal it, there were some encouraging moments in the Buffs' 42-17 loss. Take, for instance, quarterback Tyler Hansen, who completed under 50% of his passes on the night, but who threw two pretty touchdown passes and did not turn the ball over. Or maybe take the Buffs defense, already shorthanded, who held USC scoreless for much of the third quarter while the game was still in doubt. It wasn't an impressive showing by Colorado's D— they did give up six touchdown passes, 7.3 yards per carry and 561 total yards— but they stood up to the Trojans when the game still meant something, and that, as they say, might be something to build on.
For USC, it was a night when they looked like the USC of old. QB Matt Barkley, in fact, looked like no Trojan ever as he threw for six scores, breaking the USC record for touchdown passes in a single game. USC spread the ball around, showcasing the playmakers that now abound in Lane Kiffin's offense. The Trojans offense was so balanced on Friday night that their two leading receivers and rushers put up almost identical lines: WRs Robert Woods and Marqise Lee finished with nine receptions for 132 yards and two touchdowns and 10 receptions for 131 yards and two touchdowns, respectively, while RB Amir Carlisle's 10 rushes for 88 yards and a touchdown mirrored RB Curtis McNeal's 10 rushes for 86 yards and a touchdown.
USC moves to 7-2 on the year, while Colorado drops to a ghastly 1-9 in 2011. Head coach Jon Embree will try and sell the year as the ultimate rebuilding process, but the Buffs are staring 1-12 on the face, and it's hard to gift wrap that hunk of coal.