The set up: Fresh off a heartbreaking triple-overtime loss to No. 4 Stanford, USC had a short week to rebound for a Friday night matchup. Thankfully, that matchup was with the dreadful Colorado Buffalo, who have yet to win a Pac-12 game and are just 1-9 on the season. The Buffalo’s losses include 48-7 to Stanford, 52-24 to Washington, 45-2 to Oregon and 48-14 to Arizona State.
The story: Add another Buffalo beatdown to that list. USC’s 42-17 domination included a school-record six touchdown passes by Matt Barkley, who was serenaded to chants of “One more year!” as he left the field.
Playing without both starting safeties due to T.J. McDonald’s first-half suspension and Jawanza Starling’s injury, the Trojans gave up a quick score to Colorado on the Buffalo’s first drive, capped by a 37-yard touchdown pass that ate up the inexperienced USC secondary.
From there, it was all Trojans. Barkley and the Trojans answered right back with a 33-yard touchdown pass to Marqise Lee. Then the scores came rapidly for the Trojans. Barkley to Xavier Grimble for a five-yard touchdown to start off the second. Barkley to Robert Woods from 15 yards at 7:02 of the second. Barkley to Lee again from 25 yards to end the half up 28-10.
The second half was a similar story. A scrambling Barkley found Woods for a 45-yard touchdown on what the sophomore wideout described as a something you might see in a pickup game at the park on Sunday. Then it was the record-setter; Barkley to Amir Carlisle from 19 yards on the Trojans first drive of the fourth quarter.
All told, Barkley finish 25-of-39 for 318 yards, six touchdowns and one interception. On the ground, carries were split almost evenly between the starter Curtis McNeal and a pair of freshmen, Carlisle and D.J. Morgan. McNeal had 10 carries for 87 yards, Carlisle 10 for 90, and Morgan nine for 56, 31 of those coming on one play.
Lee and Woods each had nine catches and a pair of touchdowns, Woods totaling 130 yards to Lee’s 124. Woods also had what would have been his first kickoff return touchdown of the season called back by a Tony Burnett holding penalty.
Fresh faces: The Trojans started three freshman linebackers, two new safeties and were still missing Torin Harris at cornerback.
As usual, Isiah Wiley started in place of the injured Harris. At safety, junior Drew McAllister started for the suspended T.J. McDonald, and senior Marshall Jones stepped in for the injured Jawanza Starling. Linebacker Dion Bailey was out with a concussion, so true freshman Tre Madden started in his place. And senior middle linebacker Chris Galippo bowed out to another true freshman in Lamar Dawson.
This left only linebacker Hayes Pullard and cornerback Nickell Robey as the preferred starters in the Trojan back seven.
“My name is Marqise Lee”: No matter what Marqise Lee has done this whole season, Lane Kiffin has referred to him simply as “number nine.”
The coach contended to his true-freshman receiver that people wouldn’t know his name until he scored two touchdowns in one game. Obviously that turned out not to be true, but the coaching staff stuck with its gimmick.
After Lee scored his second touchdown against Colorado — shortly after he had the drop of the season in another would-be touchdown — he ran up to Kiffin, gave him the ball and said, “My name is Marqise Lee.”
Up next: A homecoming, revenge-filled showdown with Washington next Saturday at the Coliseum. The Huskies stunned No. 3 USC 16-13 in Seattle in 2009, and then knocked off the No. 18 Trojans last year in Los Angeles on a field goal as time expired. And only after Joe Houston missed a 40-yard field goal that would have given USC a 34-29 lead with 2:34 left. And only after the Huskies converted a fourth-and-10 and a third-and-five on their final drive, leaving the Coliseum in dejected silence.