Coach Ed Orgeron is making a strong case to have the interim tag removed from his title while returning No. 25 USC to Pac-12 South Division contention. The Trojans, who are 5-1 since Lane Kiffin was fired Sept. 29, visit Colorado on Saturday and are riding high after upsetting No. 12 Stanford last week. The Buffaloes are tied for last in the South, but they are coming off a 41-24 victory over California which snapped a 14-game Pac-12 losing streak while keeping their bowl hopes alive.
Orgeron, who is considered one of the best recruiters in the nation and served as the Trojans' defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator under Kiffin, made it clear this week what he would like to happen. "I want to be the head coach at USC," Orgeron told ESPN on Monday. "I love being a head coach. I think that it's something I'm able to do, and do well.'' A big reason for the Trojans' resurgence is its defense, which is 17th in the nation and second in the Pac-12 at 339.3 yards per game.
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network. LINE: USC - 22.5
ABOUT USC (8-3, 5-2 Pac-12): The Trojans intercepted two passes in the fourth quarter - including one by Dion Bailey at the USC 6-yard line with the game tied at 17 - while holding Stanford to a season low for points. Sophomore Cody Kessler (64.7 completion rate, 13 touchdowns, six interceptions) has done a solid job managing the offense while throwing only two picks in his last six games. If USC wins and UCLA defeats Arizona State on Saturday, the three teams will be tied atop the South.
ABOUT COLORADO (4-6, 1-6): Freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau had a career day last week with 364 yards and three touchdowns against one of the worst defenses in the country, and was quick to credit Paul Richardson and Nelson Spruce. “Those two are just so good that it definitely makes things easier for me,'' Liafau said of the receiving tandem, which combined for 19 receptions and recorded 140 yards apiece. Richardson, who has an average distance of 41.8 yards on his 20 career touchdown catches, is fourth in the nation with 120.1 receiving yards per game.
1. USC's Marqise Lee, expected to be the first wide receiver taken in the 2014 NFL draft, is nursing a sore shin. He has 44 catches for 604 yards and two touchdowns after recording 118 receptions, 1,721 yards and 14 TDs last season.
2. Game time temperature is expected to be around 30 degrees.
3. The Trojans are 7-0 against the Buffaloes and have outscored them 92-23 in two meetings since Colorado joined the Pac-12 in 2011.
PREDICTION: USC 27, Colorado 17