Everybody involved with the Colorado football program wishes safety Ryan Moeller was healthy enough to play.
The sophomore is likely going to miss his fourth consecutive game because of injuries sustained in a moped accident. CU (4-6, 1-5 Pac-12) will host Southern California (6-3, 4-2) at Folsom Field on Friday.
Moeller's absence, however, has allowed sixth-year senior Jered Bell to get back into the starting lineup. That means a lot to Bell as he prepares for his final game at Folsom Field.
"It's unfortunate what Ryan goes through," Bell said. "He's doing well, so I'm happy to hear about that. I'm really happy I got this opportunity, especially my senior year. I'm starting in my last senior game at Folsom Field. It's a blessing and I'm going to take full advantage of it."
Bell, who missed the 2011 and 2014 seasons with knee injuries, played a total of just 40 defensive snaps in the first seven games, 34 of them in blowout wins against UMass and Nicholls.
He started the past three games, playing a total of 172 snaps. He has 18 tackles, including six third-down stops, on the season.
USC's defense will present a different challenge to CU this week than Stanford did on Saturday.
Statistically, the Trojans have struggled on defense at times this season, but Buffs quarterback Sefo Liufau said CU's offense has to be sharp to beat USC's athleticism.
"I think it's kind of similar (to other teams) schematically, in terms of what they do," Liufau said. "They have lot of great athletes and it just adds to the amount of consistency and execution we do. Even if they mess up something schematically, they make up for it with skill."
CU has made a habit of helping the opposition with crucial mistakes. Liufau said the Buffs have to cut down on those mistakes to beat the Trojans.
"I think it comes down to the mental aspect of the game," Liufau said. "I think physically, we're there in terms of matching the other teams. It just comes down to knowing what you're supposed to do on certain plays and being poised in big-time situations."
Receiver Nelson Spruce is chasing Scotty McKnight's CU career record for receiving touchdowns. McKnight had 22 from 2007-10, while Spruce has 21.
The senior is disappointed he's not sitting at 22. Saturday against Stanford, he caught a 36-yard pass from Liufau but tripped and was marked down at the 4-yard line.
"I tripped last game or I would have tied it," he said.
While Spruce wants wins, he said he would also like to set a TD record.
"You want to be the best," he said. "I'm going for it."
Spruce already holds CU records for career catches (272) and receiving yards (3,022).
On Wednesday, the Buffs practiced in their bubble for just the second time this season. ... Head coach Mike MacIntyre said receiver Shay Fields has "looked good" in practice this week. Fields has been slowed by an ankle injury the past three weeks. ... The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that USC will play without senior running back Tre Madden, who has a bone bruise in his knee. Madden is third on the team in rushing (418 yards, 5.4 average, 5 TD). ... Liufau needs just 107 passing yards to break CU's all-time record. He has 7,303 for his career, ranking third behind Cody Hawkins (7,409 from 2007-10) and Joel Klatt (7,375 from 2002-05). ... This marks the 10th all-time meeting with USC and it will be just the second time CU will face an unranked USC team. The only other time was in 1927. Had there actually been an Associated Press poll in 1927, the Trojans surely would have been ranked. They were 5-0-1 entering their game against CU and finished 8-1-1 that year. The AP poll was created in 1936.
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.