USC head coach Clay Helton’s hot seat cooled a little on Saturday afternoon as the Trojans used some big plays through the air and a few timely stops on defense to move past No. 21 Colorado 21-17.
Young quarterback Sam Darnold made many wonder why he wasn’t the starter from day one with yet another impressive performance. He finished 25-of-37 for 358 yards and three touchdown throws, almost all of which came on a scramble in order to find some daylight.
The Trojans run game was paced by tailback Justin Davis, who averaged 6.4 yards a carry but sat out the final quarter after leaving with a leg injury. Even more impressive was the effort of the team’s defense, which limited a normally potent offensive attack and saw super-athlete Adoree’ Jackson pull in a highlight interception in the second half.
Colorado’s first game as a ranked opponent in a long time didn’t wind up exactly how they thought it would go. While Phillip Lindsay was solid in the run game (and caught a wild 67 yard touchdown on a trick play), the Buffs just couldn’t get much going in the first half on offense and saw quarterback Steven Montez get hit or pressured on nearly every play.
The victory by USC will further muddle the Pac-12 South standings as they were the only team without a conference loss coming into the week. The division remains a tossup at this point but UCLA could make some moves with a win on the road at Arizona State.
That probably won’t matter much to Helton, who gets the Trojans back to .500 on the season after a brutal start and likely hears a little less about his job status come Monday.