Freshman quarterback JT Daniels overcame two early interceptions Saturday night, throwing for 272 yards and three touchdowns as Southern California dumped No. 19 Colorado 31-20 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to take control of the Pac-12 South race.
Daniels completed 17 of 34 passes, hitting Michael Pittman Jr. for 65- and 9-yard scoring strikes as the Trojans scored 21 points in a 9:01 span of the second quarter to grab a 21-7 halftime lead. Daniels also connected on a 27-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Vaughns.
The most impressive aspect for USC (4-2, 3-1 Pac-12) was how thoroughly its defense stifled the high-powered Buffs (5-1, 2-1), which entered the night averaging nearly 38 points and 490.6 yards per game. Colorado managed just 168 yards and nine first downs through three quarters before picking up a pair of meaningless fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Buffaloes quarterback Steven Montez, who was completing 75.2 percent of his passes coming into the game, hit 25 of 46 attempts for only 168 yards. Wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. caught nine passes for 72 yards, his second-lowest number of catches this year, before leaving in the third quarter with a foot injury.
Shenault gave the Buffs a 7-0 lead with 11:58 left in the first half, taking a direct snap and bursting 49 yards off left tackle. The Trojans responded immediately, driving 69 yards entirely off Daniels’ arm. His scoring strike to Vaughns evened the score at the 10:11 mark.
Daniels and Pittman, who hooked up five times for 144 yards, put USC in control with their touchdown connections in the last 3:30 of the first half.
The Trojans’ defense upped the margin to 21 points when Ajene Harris picked off Montez and returned it 6 yards for a touchdown with 5:16 left in the third quarter.
Neither team rushed the ball well. Colorado picked up just 97 yards on 38 carries, while USC managed only 62 yards on 27 attempts.
The Trojans improved to 13-0 all time against the Buffs. USC coach Clay Helton is 19-0 in home games since taking the program over during the 2015 season.
—Field Level Media