No. 8 USC routs Colorado 55-17, but loses RB Dye to injury

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LOS ANGELES — Everybody on Southern California’s sideline poured onto the Coliseum field to surround the cart transporting running back Travis Dye, whose collegiate career had just ended with one awkward tackle.

The Trojans then shook off that abrupt heartbreak and kept rolling toward their ultimate goals for a remarkable rebound season in which Dye has been a prime producer and an emotional leader.

“There’s no way we would be sitting here as a football team if it wasn’t for him,” coach Lincoln Riley said.

Caleb Williams passed for 268 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for two more scores, and No. 8 USC overcame their top ball-carrier’s left leg injury in a 55-17 victory over Colorado on Friday night.

Williams accounted for five total touchdowns in his fourth consecutive outstanding game for the Trojans (9-1, 7-1 Pac-12), who warmed up for season-defining games against No. 9 UCLA and No. 20 Notre Dame in the next two weeks with a slow start followed by a blowout victory over the Buffaloes (1-9, 1-6).

Former Colorado receiver Brenden Rice had 70 yards receiving and a touchdown for the Trojans, while Tahj Washington and Austin Jones caught TD passes from Williams in the third quarter. Jones threw up a 2 and a 6 after his score to honor the jersey number of Dye, the Pac-12’s second-leading rusher with 884 yards.

“To see him go out like that, it hurts me,” Jones said. “We’ve got to step up and take on what he’s been doing so well, and keep it going.”

Dye left the field with an air cast on his left leg after going down awkwardly in the second quarter. The Oregon transfer and Los Angeles-area native has been a key component of the Trojans’ immediate transformation from a four-win program to a College Football Playoff contender.

Riley said he doesn’t expect Dye to play again this season, but the injury shouldn’t cause him long-term damage. Dye flashed USC’s signature V for Victory to his cheering fans on his way to the Coliseum tunnel before he returned to watch the second half from the sideline on crutches.

“He’ll be playing on an NFL team next year,” Riley said.

The Trojans still scored at least 41 points for the fourth consecutive game with a prolific offense led by Williams, who had another standout game despite throwing only his second interception of the season. Williams has accounted for 37 total touchdowns in 10 games at USC.

“I just care about competing and winning,” Williams said. “If I come out with five (touchdowns), I come out with five. If I come out with one, I come out with one.”

Alex Fontenot rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown for the Buffaloes, who have yielded 188 points during their four-game losing streak under interim coach Mike Sanford.

J.T. Shrout passed for 124 yards and rushed for a late TD while Colorado fell to 0-16 against USC in a series that began in 1927 and includes 11 straight Pac-12 losses for the Buffs.

USC’s defense had its best game in a month, with Tuli Tuipulotu recording 2 1/2 sacks to increase in FBS-leading total to 11 1/2, but the Trojans actually trailed 3-2 after an ugly first quarter.

“Looking at the last two weeks in particular coming into this game, I mean, there’s all the reasons in the world probably to hang your head and not start fast defensively,” Sanford said. “It just shows the resolve and the belief that those players have, and I think you’re also starting to see some great individual efforts.”

USC’s second drive ended when Williams’ underthrown long pass was wrestled away from Rice by Nikko Reed, but USC’s defense scored the game’s first points on a safety moments later when Tuipulotu pressured Shrout into an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone.

Williams quickly took control, and he excelled even with a third straight week of minimal help from his top two receivers. Jordan Addison made only one reception in limited action during the Biletnikoff Award winner’s return from a two-game injury absence, but receiver Mario Williams missed his third straight game with an injury.

THE TAKEAWAY

Colorado: The Buffs’ first quarter will look good on film when Sanford tells them they’ve got a chance to win one of their final two games. This lost season is a motivational challenge, but Sanford’s team clearly is still playing hard with what it has.

USC: Dye’s absence is a blow to the Trojans’ leadership and heart, but they’ve got talented options in Jones and Raleek Brown, who had a career-high 90 total yards and made a 25-yard TD catch from Miller Moss in the fourth quarter. USC’s defensive play, not its running game, almost certainly will determine where the Trojans finish this regular season.

INJURIES

Colorado RB Deion Smith and S Trevor Woods both sat out with injuries, but Sanford expects them to play in the Buffs’ final two games.

UP NEXT

Colorado: At Washington on Saturday, Nov. 19.

USC: At UCLA on Saturday, Nov. 19.

Texas State hires Incarnate Word coach Kinne to lead Bobcats

Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports
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Texas State hired Incarnate Word coach G.J. Kinne on Friday to lead a Sun Belt program that has had only one winning season since moving up to the Bowl Subdivision in 2012.

The 34-year-old former Tulsa quarterback has made a fast rise in coaching since ending his professional career in 2017.

After three years as an offensive analyst at SMU, Arkansas and the Philadelphia Eagles, Kinne became offensive coordinator at Hawaii in 2020. He held the same role for UCF in 2021 before landing the head coaching job at FCS Incarnate Word this season.

Incarnate Word is 10-1 and averaging 53 points and 8.3 yards per play, both FCS highs, heading into its playoff game Saturday against Furman. Kinne will remain with Incarnate Word through their playoff run.

“It’s with great honor that I’m accepting the call to be next head football coach of the Texas State Bobcats,” Kinne said. “We are going to play fast, have relentless energy, and when the going gets tough, have the mental confidence to win tight games in the second half and represent the state of Texas. Eat ‘Em Up!”

Texas State fired Jake Spavital last week after the Bobcats won just 13 games in his four seasons.

Kinne signed a five-year contract, the school said. Terms were not immediately released.

“My goal was to hire someone with demonstrated leadership experience, success as a head coach, established relationships with Texas football coaches, and success with recruiting and developing players,” said Texas State President Kelly Damphousse. “I sought a leader with a plan to capitalize on our location in the heart of the best high school football in the country.”

Florida Atlantic hires Tom Herman as football coach

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BOCA RATON, Fla. – Former Texas and Houston head coach Tom Herman will take over at Florida Atlantic as it heads into its first season in the American Athletic Conference.

The hire comes just days after FAU fired Willie Taggart, who went 15-18 in his three seasons with the Owls. Details of the contract with Herman were not immediately available.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome Tom Herman to Paradise,” FAU Director of Athletics Brian White said Thursday. “Throughout the process and the more we talked with Coach Herman, the more it became apparent to me that he was the right person to lead our football program. Beyond his knowledge of the game, which is obvious by his success over the years, he also truly cares about the young people in his program.”

FAU’s final season in Conference USA ended with a 5-7 record and an overtime loss to Western Kentucky. The Owls will be in the American next season.

Herman returns to college football after spending the 2021 season with the Chicago Bears as an offensive analyst.

Herman was 22-4 at Houston, a mark that helped him land the head coaching job at Texas where he went 32-18 with four straight bowl trips in 2017-2020. He also was an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ohio State during the Buckeyes’ 2014 national championship season, as well as stops at Iowa State, Rice and Texas State.

“All the pieces are in place at FAU for us to be successful,” Herman said. “There are already great young men on this team, great facilities, a great location, a great recruiting base and great leadership, all of which are important to building a successful program.”