Kedron Slovis threw three touchdown passes and Southern California broke out of its doldrums Saturday with a 37-14 rout of free-falling Colorado.
Slovis completed 19 of 29 throws for 276 yards and hit Drake London, Michael Trigg and Gary Bryant Jr. with scoring passes as the Trojans (3-2, 2-2 Pac-12) bounced back in a big way from their first home loss to Oregon State in 61 years by rolling over a Buffaloes team whose offense remains stuck in neutral.
The Buffaloes (1-4, 0-2) fell to 0-15 against Southern Cal with their fourth consecutive loss since a win in their opener over lower-division Northern Colorado.
Brendon Lewis was held to 10-of-17 passing for 162 yards, was intercepted once and sacked five times. The Buffs converted just 1 of 10 third downs and failed on a fourth-down try.
The Trojans gained just 2 yards on the game’s opening possession but they made up for it by scoring on their next four drives to build a 20-0 cushion.
A fumble at midfield by USC running back Keaontray Ingram gave the Buffs a big break just before halftime. Safety Mark Perry pounced on the loose ball at the Trojans 48, and that gave Colorado’s sputtering offense its first foray in USC territory.
Seven plays later, Deion Smith scored from a yard out to pull the Buffs to 20-7 at halftime.
The Buffs got the ball coming out the break with hopes of making it a one-score game, but they turned it over on their first two drives, once on a strip sack and another time on downs, and the Trojans capitalized by expanding their lead to 30-7.
And cornerback Joshua Jackson Jr.’s interception set up Bryant’s 15-yard TD catch that made it 37-14 early in the fourth quarter.
Ingram ran 14 times for 124 yards and London caught nine passes for 130 yards. His 31-yard grab set up the first of Parker Lewis’s three field goals, a 30-yarder to start the scoring.
London had receptions of 29 and 28 yards on USC’s next drive, and he was rewarded when Slovis went his way on second-and-goal from the 1 for the touchdown and a 10-0 lead.
Trigg then high-pointed a catch over safety Isaiah Lewis at the 20-yard line and raced into the end zone for a 46-yard score that made it 17-0.
USC defensive tackle Tuli Tuipulotu strip sacked Lewis on the opening drive of the second half. The ball popped into the arms of linebacker Drake Jackson at the Colorado 29, setting up Lewis for a 49-yarder and a 23-7 lead.
Tuipulotu’s strip sack came three plays after Trojans linebacker Ralen Goforth was disqualified for targeting after his helmet-to-helmet hit of a sliding Lewis.
After the Buffs turned it over on downs, Ingram broke free for a 53-yard run to the 5, setting up Vavae Malepeai’s 2-yard TD run made it 30-7.
The Buffaloes’ biggest play of the season, a 65-yard catch by tight end Brady Russell, preceded Lewis’ 7-yard TD throw to Chase Penry.
The Trojans turned Jackson’s takeaway into points on Bryant’s TD to cap the scoring.
USC: The Trojans got at least a one-week reprieve from the drama surrounding the program following Clay Helton’s firing on Sept. 13, Donte Williams’s appointment as the interim head coach and the Trojans’ first home loss to Oregon State since 1960.
Colorado: The offensive struggles continued for the young Buffs, who still couldn’t find any rhythm against an opponent that was scuffling just about as much as they were. Their last five losses to USC had come by a total of 36 points, including three by four points or less. This one was never close.
USC: Hosts Utah on Oct. 9.
Colorado: Gets next weekend off before hosting Arizona on Oct. 16.