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Clinching the Pac-12 South: USC Trojans vs Colorado game wrap up

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NCAA Football: Southern California at Arizona State Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The USC Trojans secured their spot in the Pac-12 Conference championship game with a win over Colorado last week, here now is a collection of all the highlights, reactions, takeaways and more as USC gets ready to beat UCLA.

USC Trojans - Colorado Buffaloes Instant Analysis

The Trojans Clinch the Pac-12 South:

“Following consecutive victories against Pac-12 South opponents Arizona and Arizona State, the #11 USC Trojans clinched their second Pac-12 South title with a complete offensive team performance in their 38-24 victory over Colorado.

[. . .]

The game had early telltale signs of yet another contest of busted offensive playcalling following a failed, short fourth-down conversion as the Trojans ran out of the shotgun on the eleventh-ranked rushing defense in the Pac-12. On the drive before, the Trojan kicking woes continued as Chase McGrath missed a 40-yard field goal.

The first quarter saw both teams scoreless with a bevy of scuffling after plays and unsportsmanlike penalties throughout. Early into the second quarter, the Trojans managed to string together a successful drive as Darnold repeatedly connected with sophomore wideout Michael Pittman Jr.

USC vs Colorado Recap:

What We Learned from USC’s 38-24 victory over Colorado

Sam Darnold Found His Groove: Sam Darnold struggled early with his inconsistencies and inability of taking care of the ball. For the second straight game Darnold passed for over 300 yards and threw for multiple touchdowns. He even rushed for a score. The run game and finding chemistry with his receiving core has really helped Darnold get back into his groove.

USC will play for the Pac-12 Championship: As a result of their 38-24 win over Colorado, USC clinched the Pac-12 South. Despite the result of the UCLA game next week, the Trojans will play for a shot at their first conference championship since 2008. 2015 head coach Clay Helton led USC to the Pac-12 Championship Game as an interim head coach. Days before the game he had the interim tag removed. This year Helton leads USC back where they await the winner of the Pac-12 North”

USC Football: USC 38, Colorado 24 - Highlights:

USC clinches Pac-12 South with win over Colorado:

Ronald Jones chipped in 132 yards rushing and a touchdown on the ground, while the Trojans returned one interception — and nearly a second late — for a score as well.

USC is now 7-1 in conference play with one game, rival UCLA, remaining. Two teams, Arizona and Arizona State, are at 4-2 entering Week 11 although only one could potentially tie USC as the in-state rivals square off in the regular-season finale, leaving one with at least three conference losses. That doesn’t matter, though, as the Trojans hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over both teams.

As such, USC is headed to its first Pac-12 championship game since 2015 and its second ever since the game was first played in 2011.

Just who they will face remains very much up in the air as Stanford (6-2), Washington (5-2) and Washington State (5-2) are all still vying for the North’s spot.”

USC Football Post Game Presser Colorado:

USC vs. Colorado score, summary: Trojans hang on in Boulder

the Trojans took a commanding 27-0 lead.

Only, the lead became far less commanding as Colorado took a bite out of the deficit in short order. First, blown coverage by Jack Jones resulted in a 79-yard touchdown for Juwann Winfree. Then a blocked punt set the Buffaloes up at the one-yard line, where Phillip Lindsay punched it in to make it 27-14.

The two teams traded field goals before Ronald Jones II took over, capping off a 72-yard drive with a 22-yard cutback touchdown.

The celebration was short-lived as Montez hit Winfree, who came wide open against Jack Jones, for a 57-yard score.

With the game at 38-24, USC had the chance to put it away for good when Harris grabbed another interception

Highlights: USC football tops Colorado to clinch trip to Pac-12 title game:

Ronald Jones passes Garrett, Bush and White on USC’s career rushing list:

“Following a two-game stretch in which he ran for 410 yards against Arizona State and Arizona, Jones needed only 19 yards to surpass Bush and White’s 3,169 and 3,159-yard careers, and 71 yards to edge out Garrett’s 3,221.

[. . .]

With three games remaining including the Pac-12 Championship Game, Jones is now within striking distance of O.J. Simpson’s 3,423-yard spot for fifth.”

USC Football Rapid Reaction - Colorado:

Ronald Jones II runs up USC record book in win over Colorado

Jones left USC’s locker room carrying a homemade poster someone made and delivered to him after the game. It said “ROJO’S GOT THE MOJO.” He said he was going to hang it on his wall. It would be a keepsake from the game he eclipsed a personal hero.

"Reggie was my all-time favorite player growing up, so just to be mentioned in the conversation with him is crazy,” Jones said. “And then obviously LenDale is obviously the go-to, and he's got all these records here.

"I thought I'd never do it,” he continued. “But here we are.”

Ronald Jones talks Colorado win, being USC's 6th all-time rusher

A continually improving Sam Darnold leads USC past Colorado:

Like the 32-yard throw down the right sideline to Steven Mitchell Jr. in the second quarter, which set up the first of Darnold’s two touchdown passes.

Or the consecutive 20-something-yard passes he made to Tyler Vaughns on the opposite sideline, which positioned the Trojans to extend their advantage to 14-0.

Darnold completed 21 of 34 passes for 329 yards. The game was his first of the season without any turnovers.

“We kind of saw tonight, my deep-ball accuracy has gotten a lot better,” Darnold said.

This was by design. Improving deep-ball accuracy, especially down the sidelines, has been a long-term project for Darnold, who noticed earlier this season that defenses were crowding the middle of the field and daring him to beat them outside.

USC vs Colorado | Highlights | FOX COLLEGE FOOTBALL:

No. 15 USC clinches Pac-12 South in 38-24 win over Colorado

Darnold tossed two touchdown passes and ran for another , Harris intercepted two passes, including one he returned for a score, and No. 15 Southern California beat Colorado 38-24 on Saturday to wrap up the Pac-12 South title.

"Always good to have someone like him on defense," Darnold said.

The same can be said of Darnold — on offense, of course — after he threw for 329 yards and improved to 18-3 as a starter.

"I've really enjoyed his leadership, whether it's good times or bad," USC coach Clay Helton said. "When you're the quarterback at USC and to have that much pressure on you and do it with so much class and character on a weekly basis, whether things are going good or bad, and perform for his brothers? He's the definition of believing in the team's success over individual success."

WATCH: USC's Sam Darnold shows off his legs for 24-yard touchdown, USC up 27-0

PAC-12 South Champs: No. 15 USC overwhelms Colorado 38-24

A pivotal play in the game was when Colorado tried to get something going with about a minute left before halftime and down 14-0. Montez forced a pass to the outside that Harris stepped in front of, tip-toed along the out-of-bounds line and headed into the end zone.

Harris had another interception in the fourth quarter that nearly went for a score. As he was being tackled, Harris pitched the ball to Marvel Tell III, who took it about 27 yards for a TD. The replay booth took a look and ruled that Harris’ knee was down before the pitch.

Ajene Harris says Trojans want more than Pac-12 South title:

USC vs. Colorado: Four takeaways from the Trojans nervy win

Pittman became a starter and has not relinquished the role. But he still had not had a breakout game similar to those of Tyler Vaughns and Deontay Burnett. That changed against Colorado.

Pittman caught nearly everything that was thrown his way, hauling in four passes for 59 yards and a touchdown.

Using his size to his advantage, he abused defensive backs—his touchdown was a jump ball in the end zone—and proved to be a reliable blocker as well.”

Michael Pittman Jr. on being incorporated into USC offense more:

USC vs. Colorado 2017: Studs and duds from Trojans’ South-clinching win

After being picked on by Arizona last week, Harris proved again Saturday afternoon that he should be left alone. Harris, who is usually only talked about when fans are lamenting another punt hitting the ground, had himself a game. The junior nickelback did a fantastic job in man coverage all afternoon against Colorado’s talented receiving corps.

Harris, however, came up the biggest at the end of both halves. At the end of the first half when the Buffaloes were looking to make it a game, he had a pick six, giving USC a 20-0 halftime lead and snuffing out early signs of a rally.

Then after some struggles with secondary mate Jack Jones, Harris came up big with another interception. This time it was late in the fourth when Colorado was looking to make it a one-possession game.”

USC LB John Houston after USC defeated CU 38-24:

6 USC players make Pro Football Focus’ weekly Pac-12 teams

Sophomore wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. had the best game of his career, with 4 receptions for 59 yards and his first TD catch. Pittman entered the Colorado game with 8 catches in 2017.

USC’s defense allowed 486 yards to Colorado but forced 2 turnovers, giving it a positive season turnover margin for the first time since September. That enabled three Trojans to make PFF’s Pac-12 defensive team for Week 11.

Sophomore linebacker John Houston Jr. had a career-high 11 tackles, including 2 for loss, and a pass breakup. Senior edge rusher Uchenna Nwosu had 5 solo tackles, 2 pass breakups and a quarterback hurry. Junior cornerback Ajene Harris had 2 interceptions. He gave USC a 20-0 lead with a 34-yard interception that he returned for a touchdown.

Harris and Houston’s efforts also landed them on PFF’s National Defensive Team of the Week.

USC vs Colorado field level highlights

Four lessons from USC vs. Colorado and what they mean vs. UCLA

Jones wasn’t the only Trojan flagged for conduct after the whistle. Right tackle Chuma Edoga was penalized for a late hit while receiver Tyler Vaughns picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct foul for spinning the ball after a big catch.

At least the Pac-12 refs have been somewhat consistent with the flags they throw. After hitting Vaughns with the penalty, they hit Colorado’s Juwann Winfree for the same infraction.

as visible as those those penalties are, they aren’t the only signs of USC’s lack of disciple. Smaller, more routine mishaps have regularly stifled the Trojan offense: false starts on Andrew Vorhees, Tyler Petite and Daniel Imatorbhebehe, who was also hit with a blatant holding penalty, an illegal formation on Deontay Burnett and the like.

The Trojans have had less than seven penalty flags thrown against them just three times this season.

Instant Analysis: USC defeats Colorado 38-24

Will two near comebacks come back to haunt USC?

The Trojans would survive the scare, but for the second week in a row, they struggled to close out what could have been an easy victory. The week before, USC led Arizona by 22 points in the third quarter; the lead had completely vanished by the middle of the fourth.

"I think they started making plays,” coach Clay Helton said of Colorado. “I thought their wide receivers made a couple deep-ball plays on some double moves that caught us. We are an aggressive defense."

But even more than by Colorado’s playmaking, the comeback was facilitated by USC breakdowns that could’ve been fatal had USC not staked itself to such a large cushion. Immediately before the punt block, a blown assignment in the secondary gave Colorado a wide-open 79-yard touchdown pass to Juwann Winfree.

In the fourth quarter, Winfree blew past cornerback Jack Jones for a 57-yard touchdown reception. And Colorado nearly made it a one-possession game late before its final drive stalled inside USC’s 10-yard line.

“Really three plays allowed them to score points in that game,” Helton said.” MacIntyre's Post-USC Game Presser

Pac-12 power rankings – Week 12: USC clinches South as North is wide open:

The Trojans clinched the Pac-12 South Division with their convincing victory over the Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday, and this team seems to be firing on all cylinders. Just as they did last season, the Trojans are finding ways to win games late in the year, and have set themselves up for another shot at the Rose Bowl.

This game was not as close as the 38-24 score may indicate, as the Trojans were actually up by a score of 27-0 in the third quarter. Quarterback Sam Darnold was once again solid under center, throwing for 329 yards and two touchdowns. With the win, Darnold is now 18-3 as the starting quarterback for the USC Trojans

Phillip Lindsay USC Postgame

USC clinches Pac-12 South with win over Colorado:

“USC quarterback Sam Darnold was 21-34 passing for 329 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, he didn’t commit a turnover. They’ve plagued Darnold all season. And while he’s curbed his interception issues recently, fumbles have been a problem.

Running back Ronald Jones continued his torrid streak with 25 carries for 142 yards and a touchdown. Jones has rushed for over 100 yards in his last three games and four of his last five.

The Buffaloes entered the season as the defending Pac-12 South champions. They may not even make a bowl game in 2017. Colorado (5-6, 2-6) has to beat Utah on Nov. 25 on the road to get to .500 and bowl eligibility.”