Caleb Williams’ 5 TDs power No. 8 USC past Colorado

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Behind three touchdowns passing and two rushing from quarterback Caleb Williams, eighth-ranked USC overcame a sluggish start Friday against Pac-12 Conference counterpart Colorado, remaining perfect all-time against the Buffaloes with a 55-17 rout in Los Angeles.

The Trojans (9-1, 7-1 Pac-12) improved to 16-0 all-time against Colorado and continued their best start since the 2008 season — but endured a rocky start to get there.

USC’s offense — which began the night averaging 41 points per game and more than 10 points in opening quarters — was shut out in the first period on Friday.

The Trojans’ lone points came when Tuli Tuipulotu and Tyrone Taleni sacked Colorado quarterback J.T. Shrout in the end zone, effectively nullifying a Buffaloes’ interception of Williams. Nikko Reed’s pick accounted for just the second interception Williams has thrown all season.

Colorado (1-9, 1-6) led 3-2 going into the second quarter thanks to a 28-yard field goal by Cole Becker, the culmination of a 12-play, 72-yard drive that included a fourth-down conversion and a 37-yard Alex Fontenot run.

USC then seized control in the second quarter.

Williams rushed for a pair of touchdowns in the period, both on cleverly executed run-pass option keepers, and hooked up with former Buffaloes player Brenden Rice on a 32-yard scoring pass. The Trojans deluged Colorado with 24 points in the quarter to put the game away by halftime.

The period was not all good for USC, however. Running back Travis Dye — second in the Pac-12 in rushing heading into Week 11 — was carted off the field minutes before halftime with an apparent leg injury. He returned to the sidelines on crutches in the third quarter.

Filling in for Dye, Austin Jones rushed for 74 yards on 11 carries and scored a third-quarter touchdown on a 12-yard pass from Williams.

Jones’ score put an exclamation point on the win after Tahj Washington quashed any hope of Colorado comeback. The Buffaloes showed some life, pulling to within 26-10 on Fontenot’s 3-yard touchdown run shortly after halftime, but Washington broke a 61-yard scoring reception less than a minute later to slam the door.

Williams finished 14-of-26 for 268 yards. Fontenot led all ball-carriers with 108 yards on 20 attempts.

–Field Level Media

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