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Williams' career day helps No. 8 USC withstand late Colorado rally for win

Caleb Williams USC Caleb Williams - The Canadian Press

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Caleb Williams threw for 403 yards and tied a career high with six touchdown passes as No. 8 Southern California held off Colorado 48-41 on Saturday after racing out to a big lead.

Leading 34-7 in the second quarter, the Trojans saw Colorado storm back to make it a one-score game with 1:43 remaining on Shedeur Sanders' 16-yard TD strike to Jimmy Horn Jr. The Trojans recovered the onside-kick attempt and Williams kneeled three times to close out the win.

The Trojans (5-0, 3-0 Pac-12) improved to 17-0 all-time against the Buffaloes (3-2, 0-2), who were knocked off for a second straight week after a 3-0 start that made Deion Sanders' team the biggest story in college football.

USC picked up right where Oregon left off last week, overwhelming the 21 1/2-point underdog Buffaloes in the first half.

Williams smoothly operated the offense, completing 17 straight passes at one point. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner spread around the wealth, too, throwing TD passes to five different receivers as Coach Prime's house full of celebrity guests watched.

Williams also threw six TD passes on Oct. 30, 2021, against Texas Tech while at Oklahoma. He threw his first interception of the season when Cam’Ron Silmon-Craig picked him off late in the third.

Shedeur Sanders finished with 371 yards passing and four touchdowns, along with a 25-yard scamper for a score just before halftime. The Buffaloes fell behind by 27 after a costly interception and a blocked punt, both deep in their own territory, late in the second quarter before rallying.

Sanders completed a 9-yard TD score to Omarion Miller on fourth-and-5 with 11:55 remaining to make it 48-34. USC kicker Denis Lynch had a chance to extend the lead, but his 38-yard attempt sailed wide right.

Miller had seven catches for 196 yards and a score for the Buffaloes.

Shedeur Sanders dropped back-to-back games for the first time as a college starter. Colorado lost 42-6 at No. 9 Oregon last weekend when safety Shilo Sanders, Shedeur's older brother, injured a kidney. Shilo Sanders sat out Saturday along with two-way star Travis Hunter, who missed his second game with a lacerated liver.

Shedeur Sanders went 23-3 record as the starting QB at Jackson State before following his father/coach to Boulder.

Former Colorado receiver Brenden Rice had two touchdown catches in his return to Boulder. Rice, who's the son of Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice, left for the Trojans before the 2022 season.

The Buffaloes were plagued by special teams woes, with Jace Feely missing a 41-yard field goal wide left and Mark Vassett having a punt blocked by Eric Gentry.

Both miscues were turned into TD passes by Williams.

Colorado had plenty of star power at sold-out Folsom Field, with some of familiar names in the world of sports and entertainment showed up Saturday. Among the guests in the house were NBA standouts Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, along with pitcher CC Sabathia, receivers DeSean Jackson and Michael Westbrook, and rapper DaBaby.

DaBaby figured heavily into the weekend as he gave a motivational speech the night before the game and led the team onto the field by high-stepping along the sideline.

Sanders has turned Colorado into the talk of football. Fox’s “Big Noon Kickoff” made its third appearance in Boulder this season.


USC: Don't face the Trojans early — they improved to 9-0 under coach Lincoln Riley in August/September games.

Colorado: Dropped their 20th straight contest against an team ranked in the top 10, according to research provided by the Pac-12. The Buffaloes haven't recorded a win over an AP top-10 team since beating No. 3 Oklahoma 27-24 in Boulder on Sept. 29, 2007.

The Trojans and Buffs are headed their separate directions next season — USC to the Big Ten and Colorado to the Big 12.


USC: The Trojans fell three spots in the recent poll despite a 42-28 at Arizona State. They could slide a little again.


USC: Host Arizona next Saturday.

Colorado: At Arizona State next Saturday.