Williams Ties Career High With 6 TD Passes, No. 8 USC Withstands Late Colorado Rally For 48-41 Win

The Trojans (5-0, 3-0 Pac-12) improved to 17-0 all-time against the Buffaloes (3-2, 0-2), who were knocked off for a second straight week after a 3-0 start that made Deion Sanders’ team the biggest story in college football.

Saturday, September 30th 2023, 7:36 pm

By: Associated Press


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It didn’t take long for Caleb Williams to realize this wasn’t the same Colorado team. That Deion Sanders has brought a different vibe to the sideline, along with a host of celebrity friends.

The result was all too familiar, though — another win for Southern California.

Williams threw for 403 yards and tied a career high with six touchdown passes as the eighth-ranked Trojans held off the Buffaloes 48-41 on Saturday after racing out to a big lead.

Up 34-7 in the second quarter, the Trojans saw Colorado storm back to make it a one-score game with 1:43 remaining on Shedeur Sanders’ 16-yard TD strike to Jimmy Horn Jr. The Trojans recovered the onside-kick attempt and Williams kneeled three times to close out the win.

The Trojans (5-0, 3-0 Pac-12) improved to 17-0 all-time against the Buffaloes (3-2, 0-2), who were knocked off for a second straight week after a 3-0 start that made Deion Sanders’ team the biggest story in college football.

“Deion and that team, they brought a lot of energy to Colorado,” Williams said. “It’s great. It’s fun.”

After a two-game losing streak, Sanders insists his team is going to grow stronger.

“If you can’t see what’s coming with CU football, you’ve lost your mind,” the Buffaloes coach said. “You’re just a flat-out hater. If you can’t see what’s going on and what’s going to transpire over the next several months, something’s wrong with you.”

USC picked up right where Oregon left off last week, overwhelming the 21 1/2-point underdog Buffaloes in the first half.

Williams smoothly operated the offense, completing 17 straight passes at one point. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner spread around the wealth, too, throwing TD passes to five different receivers as Coach Prime’s house full of celebrity guests watched.

“That kid is a flat-out baller,” Sanders said.

Williams also threw six TD passes on Oct. 30, 2021, against Texas Tech while at Oklahoma. He threw his first interception of the season when Cam’Ron Silmon-Craig picked him off late in the third.

Shedeur Sanders finished with 371 yards passing and four touchdowns, along with a 25-yard scamper for a score just before halftime. The Buffaloes fell behind by 27 after a costly interception and a blocked punt, both deep in their own territory, late in the second quarter before rallying.

Sanders completed a 9-yard TD score to Omarion Miller on fourth-and-5 with 11:55 remaining to make it 48-34. USC kicker Denis Lynch had a chance to extend the lead, but his 38-yard attempt sailed wide right.

Miller had seven catches for 196 yards and a score for the Buffaloes, who outgained the Trojans 564-498.

“Today we kind of got a glimpse of who our identity is,” Shedeur Sanders said. “Offensively, no matter what happens, we’ve got to go out and score every drive. That’s where I feel like we got our mindset in the second half. We can take that from that.”

Colorado lost 42-6 at No. 9 Oregon last weekend when safety Shilo Sanders, Shedeur’s older brother, injured a kidney. Shilo Sanders sat out Saturday along with two-way star Travis Hunter, who missed his second game with a lacerated liver.

Their presence was missed against USC’s explosive offense, which has scored more than 40 points in every game this season. But highly touted defensive back Cormani McClain stepped up to help slow Williams and Co. in the second half.

Former Colorado receiver Brenden Rice had two touchdown catches in his return to Boulder. Rice, who’s the son of Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice, left for the Trojans before the 2022 season.

The Buffaloes were plagued by special teams woes, with Jace Feely missing a 41-yard field goal wide left and Mark Vassett having a punt blocked by Eric Gentry.

Both miscues were turned into TD passes by Williams.

“I promise you at the end of the year, nobody’s going to look back on this and care. They’re going to look back and see it was ‘W,’” Trojans coach Lincoln Riley said.

Colorado had plenty of star power at sold-out Folsom Field, with some of familiar names in the world of sports and entertainment showed up Saturday. Among the guests in the house were NBA standouts Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, along with pitcher CC Sabathia, receivers DeSean Jackson and Michael Westbrook, and rapper DaBaby.

DaBaby figured heavily into the weekend as he gave a motivational speech the night before the game and led the team onto the field by high-stepping along the sideline.

THE TAKEAWAY

USC: Don’t face the Trojans early — they improved to 9-0 under Riley in August/September games.

Colorado: Dropped their 20th straight contest against an team ranked in the top 10, according to research provided by the Pac-12. The Buffaloes haven’t recorded a win over an AP top-10 team since beating No. 3 Oklahoma 27-24 in Boulder on Sept. 29, 2007.

The Trojans and Buffs are headed their separate directions next season — USC to the Big Ten and Colorado to the Big 12.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

USC: The Trojans fell three spots in the recent poll despite a 42-28 at Arizona State. They could slide a little again.

UP NEXT

USC: Host Arizona next Saturday.

Colorado: At Arizona State next Saturday.

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll

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