BOULDER, Colo. — As Colorado’s sideline swelled with celebrities, athletes, recruits and assorted boosters near the entrance to Folsom Field on Saturday, USC quarterback Caleb Williams went about his pregame warmups far away. A stray camera or two would occasionally venture down toward the south end zone to film the Heisman winner stretching, but the most outstanding player in the sport was largely left to relative peace to prepare for an extra early start despite a sellout crowd filing in.
Eventually, he made his way to the Trojans bench, bobbing along to the music in his headphones. As he sat back watching and handing out high-fives to teammates passing by, Williams eventually looked across the field to see what was causing all the ruckus.
Though he didn’t stare down anybody from the Buffs or partake in stargazing, it was almost as if he took note of where all the attention was directed.
You want a show? I’ll give you a show.
Williams certainly put one on to allow No. 8 USC to hold on to 48-41 win on “Big Noon Saturday” to beat Deion Sanders and Colorado and send a statement that it’s the cardinal and gold you want to be paying attention to as September fades into October this year.
Here’s what you need to know from the game:
Player of the Game
It’s repetitive considering he’s the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and the favorite to win two stiff arms in a row, but Williams is going to be the default choice for any game he steps onto the field for because he is not only that good — he just takes over with the ball in his hands. It almost looked as if he took some of the attention that was directed toward the opposite sideline personally, as the junior from Washington D.C. was dazzling from pretty much the opening snap. He threw for 374 yards and a career-high six touchdowns, appropriately slicing and dicing one of the worst defenses in the Pac-12 in front of more than two dozen NFL scouts. It was the 13th consecutive game in which he had three touchdowns or more — the second-longest streak by any player in the past two decades — and he pushed his first-half numbers through the air for the season to an eye-opening 70-of-87 (80%), 1,077 yards and 14 touchdowns.
If you add in his three rushing scores before going to the locker room, the potential No. 1 overall pick would lead the country in touchdowns even if he only played the first two quarters. About the only blemish he had came late in the third quarter when he got a little greedy in the thin air of the Flatirons, throwing his first interception of the season on a floater that Jaylen Ellis easily pulled down for the Trojans’ only turnover.
Where would USC’s Caleb Williams be ranked on Deion Sanders’ children?
Play of the Game
Williams didn’t wait long to put his stamp on the game with a play that would have made even Patrick Mahomes blush, scrambling around with half a day to throw (OK, just seven seconds to be precise) before eventually finding Tahj Washington wide open in the middle of the field midway through the first quarter. The wideout proceeded to weave his way through a broken secondary, dashing 71 yards for the score to cap off a three-play drive. That put the visitors up two scores and established that there would be little resistance to the most prolific offense in college football despite the early start on their body clocks.
Turning point of the game
After USC went up by 14 in the first quarter, Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders picked an ill-advised time to throw his second interception of the season, hitting Trojans corner Christian Roland-Wallace square in the numbers. Roland-Wallace wound up returning it to the edge of the red zone. It took just four plays for the eighth-ranked team in the polls to score again and signal there wouldn’t be much stopping them the rest of the day.
It took until 6:44 left in the fourth quarter for the Trojans to have more third-down attempts (eight) than touchdowns (seven).
What’s next for USC?
The Trojans will return home to face Arizona for a late-night game at the Coliseum, before the start of their season-defining stretch that includes trips to Notre Dame, Cal and Oregon sandwiched between contests against Utah, Washington and UCLA. The team does get a bye before a potential Pac-12 title game, but the visit to Boulder really marked the start of the quest to reach the College Football Playoff for the cardinal and gold.
What’s next for Colorado?
The Buffs embark on a key stretch of conference games in their quest for bowl eligibility, traveling to Tempe to play Arizona State and fellow first-year head coach Kenny Dillingham before hosting Stanford on Oct. 13. With a closing stretch that features potentially four top 25 teams on the docket after that, the next two weeks will prove critical for Sanders’ program taking a meaningful step in the right direction with a postseason berth.
Caleb Williams sits down with Matt Leinart to discuss USC, expectations and more | Big Noon Kickoff
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Bryan Fischer is a college football writer for FOX Sports. He has been covering college athletics for nearly two decades at outlets such as NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Yahoo! Sports and NFL.com among others. Follow him on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.
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