LOS ANGELES - In a college football season where every weekend seems to brew a perfect storm for Colorado's beleaguered defense, Saturday's storm in the Los Angeles Coliseum was more perfect than most.
How does a quarterback get more perfect than 19-of-20 for 298 yards and six touchdown passes in just over a half?
If you're Matt Barkley, you work next week to avoid that lone incompletion. And Saturday's miss, for the record, was a drop by one of his running backs. Shame on you, Curtis McNeal.
If you're the Buffs, you look to the heavens and say a prayer of thanks that you're done with Barkley, that he's moving on to the NFL and can't carve you up like he's done now for two seasons.
Saturday's surgery was all but complete after one half, with Barkley throwing five of his TD passes and completing 16-of-17 for 269 yards as he and his Southern California offense frolicked to a 33-6 lead. He took three snaps in the second half, completed three passes and called it a day.
If USC coach Lane Kiffin had wanted this one to really get ugly, he would have let Barkley go three quarters. No point, really.
Wherever Barkley ends up in the NFL, he might not end up with any better pair of receivers than he has at USC. "I can't imagine a better pair than that," CU defensive coordinator Greg Brown said of Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, who had a dozen TD catches between them entering Saturday afternoon's game. They left the Coliseum with five more, Woods snatching four to set a USC single-game record.
For Barkley, the Buffs stumbled in at just the right time. In a 24-14 USC win the previous weekend at Washington, the Huskies hounded Barkley mercilessly in the second half, allowing only three-of-10 completions for 66 yards. His 167 total yards were his fewest since his sophomore season, and Heisman Trophy talk was proceeding very nicely without him.
I don't know if Saturday's performance works him back in that conversation because, well, it came against a CU pass defense that now has allowed 27 TD passes in seven games against only three picks. It's a little like a senior roughing up a freshman, which is exactly what happened, with Barkley and Woods and Lee going after first-year CU corner Kenneth Crawley.
"I'm sure Kenneth is down," coach Jon Embree said to reporters after CU's 50-6 loss. "He's a prideful guy; he takes that stuff personal."
A reporter asked Embree about the inherent hazards of playing freshmen, especially at corner against a QB like Barkley. This was Embree's answer: "Either that or you gotta play with ten. There aren't many options."
One option might have been another freshman corner - but Yuri Wright was out with a concussion. The Buffs did get senior safety Ray Polk back Saturday for the first time since the opener, but Polk didn't feel like he benefitted the defense. He missed a pair of early tackles, but so did safety Terrel Smith and Crawley on the sidelines on the first Barkley-to-Woods TD hookup.
Polk said he was "pretty rusty" and was "missing a feel for the game . . . I played like crap early on and I blame myself for us starting off with a (19-0) deficit."
After Embree mentioned blown assignments, defensive back Parker Orms said one way to remedy that is for players to take more responsibility: "We go over the game plan all week long, we get in the book. If guys aren't willing to get in (on their own) it's going to show. Some guys don't (but) we just have to be better as a team. It's all of us messing up and we have to fix that some way.
"It is embarrassing, but we've just got to keep fighting. If we're getting blown out, that's one thing. Guys have to play for the guys in the huddle, play for your (own) pride. That's all you can do."
Orms said if players shirk individual film-work responsibilities, their Ipads will squeal on them: "They show who watches film and who doesn't. Guys have to start taking it more seriously if we're going to compete in this conference."
The Trojans rushed for 118 yards, but only 47 in the first half when they quickly took control. Why run when Barkley can throw to Woods and Lee? Embree said Brown tried to mix his coverages, but "a couple of times we were in man (defense) and they hit us and lit us up for touchdowns. Then a couple of times we were in a three-deep and don't get it done. A guy just gets beat . . .
"We get a hand on the ball but don't knock it out and they catch it for a touchdown. We come back and have two hands on the ball (Nelson Spruce in the second half), they pull it out for an interception. That's kind of where we are."
Embree lamented his offense showing signs of productivity only to suffer three interceptions and three lost fumbles, with the Trojans converting those errors into more than half (29) of their points.
"We moved it well all game," Embree said. "Obviously you can't have six turnovers, four in the red zone - you can't do it. We're not good enough, especially against a team like this. When you get down there (in the red zone), you have to find a way to get into the end zone . . .
"I think every time we got in the red zone in the second half we had a turnover. We've been good in the red zone and fairly good protecting the football. So to come out in a game like this and turn it over six times . . . you just can't do it."
Junior quarterback Jordan Webb's three interceptions were a single-game high this season and gave him seven total. Sophomore Connor Wood replaced Webb in the fourth quarter after Webb's third interception led to USC's last TD (47-6).
Asked about a possible switch in starting quarterbacks, Embree said a change "would help you if you win . . . if you make a change with Connor, he's a young guy. He's thrown I don't know how many (total) passes now. It's not like you're going with Steve DeBerg or somebody like that. Everybody has to rally around (Wood) and give him support, just like you have to give Jordan support. You can't count on one guy doing it. (Barkley) is a great player but he has support, too. He's got some guys on the edge that makes plays for him and we have to get to where can make plays and do some of that stuff."
On an afternoon like Saturday, that seemed a long way off, and Embree admitted, "Yeah, we have a ways to go, no matter what the score is, we have a ways to go. We've got some work to do and we'll continue to do it. We'll do what we have to do to get it fixed.
"You have to compete. At some point you have to get to where it's not about who you're playing, it's about the opportunity to play. (But) the one thing you can't say about this team, you can't say they don't compete. I felt like they fought the whole game; they fought last week and will continue to fight. It's something we have to do."