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PAC-12 FOOTBALL

ACCESS AND 'O' By C

Interim Coach Ed Orgeron hopes the Trojans don't look past the Buffaloes

November 23, 2013|Gary Klein
  • USC quarterback Cody Kessler could be less of a factor against Colorado on Saturday in the cold weather when the Trojans play at Colorado.
USC quarterback Cody Kessler could be less of a factor against Colorado… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

BOULDER, COLO. — It's been an eventful week for Ed Orgeron.

USC's upset victory over Stanford returned the Trojans to the top 25 in the media and coaches' polls, and also earned them a spot in the Bowl Championship Series standings.

Orgeron was announced as a semifinalist for the Maxwell Football Club coach-of-the-year award -- the only interim coach on the list -- and former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel penned and then sang an ode to "Coach O" on television.

Finally, former USC coach Lane Kiffin proclaimed that making Orgeron the Trojans' permanent coach should be a no-brainer.

Orgeron maintained at every turn that he was concentrating on only one thing: "We're focused on Colorado," he said, "and my focus is to take this team on the road and play very well."

The Trojans landed in snow-blanketed Denver on Friday and bused to their hotel in suburban Bloomfield. They will arrive at Folsom Field on Saturday with a chance to improve their record under Orgeron to 6-1 going into the regular-season finale against UCLA.

USC is 8-3 overall and 5-2 in the Pac-12 Conference. If the Trojans win out and Arizona State loses to UCLA and Arizona, USC would advance to the Pac-12 title game.

"We need some help from other teams," USC quarterback Cody Kessler said, "but we still have a chance to control our own destiny."

Colorado, a 221/2-point underdog, is not expected to slow down the Trojans. USC is 7-0 against the Buffaloes in a series that dates to 1927.

Carson Palmer led a Trojans rout at Folsom Field in 2002. Two years ago, Matt Barkley passed for six touchdowns, a feat he duplicated against Colorado last season at the Coliseum.

With the temperature possibly dipping below 20 degrees Saturday night, Kessler is not expected to have the same opportunity.

The third-year sophomore took his game to another level against Stanford, but he said he would be just as happy handing off the ball if it results in victory.

With Silas Redd still sidelined because of a knee injury, Javorius Allen, Tre Madden and Ty Isaac are the Trojans' top tailbacks.

All-American receiver Marqise Lee is questionable because of a shin injury.

USC played only 13 defensive players against Stanford, a strategy that almost certainly will change against Colorado as defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast schemes to have the Trojans as close to full strength as possible next week against UCLA.

Colorado, under first-year Coach Mike MacIntyre, is 4-6 overall and 1-6 in the Pac-12 after defeating California. The victory ended a three-game losing streak and a 14-game Pac-12 losing streak. The Buffaloes have won as many games as in the last two seasons combined under former coach Jon Embree.

So Orgeron regards Colorado as potentially problematic and hopes his players won't look past the Buffaloes.

The Trojans faced a similar situation two weeks ago at Cal and demonstrated their maturity by routing the Golden Bears before playing Stanford.

If USC produces a similar performance Saturday, Orgeron will be set up for another eventful week.

And perhaps his most important opportunity to persuade Athletic Director Pat Haden that he is the best coach to lead the Trojans moving forward.

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gary.klein@latimes.com

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