After the first quarter, the Buffaloes honored a legend.
KOA Radio color commentator Larry Zimmer was honored on a night when he was calling his final home game for the Buffs. Now in his 42nd season of calling CU games, Zimmer turned 80 on Friday and is retiring at season's end.
"It was a wonderful tribute," Zimmer said. "It means a great deal. To be recognized like that by the president (Bruce Benson), by the chancellor (Phil DiStefano) and (athletic director Rick George), but most important, by these fans and the students and then all of those players.
CU had several former players in attendance to help honor Zimmer, who covered several generations of Buffs.
"It was a huge surprise," Zimmer said of all the former players showing up. "To see all those guys again was incredible."
CU quarterback Sefo Liufau came into the night with a chance to become the school's all-time leading passer.
His season-ending foot injury in the first quarter left him short, though.
Playing on Friday the 13th, Liufau, who wears No. 13, finishes the season just 13 yards shy of breaking the all-time record. The play that ended his season was a sack that left the Buffs with a third down and, yes, 13 yards to go.
Liufau has thrown for 7,397 yards in his career.
For the season, Liufau completed 214 of 345 passes (62 percent) for 2,418 yards, nine touchdowns and six interceptions.
Liufau and Klatt are the only quarterbacks in CU history with two 2,400-yard seasons.
Bell gets a pick
Sixth-year senior Jered Bell intercepted a Cody Kessler pass in the second quarter, giving him seven interceptions for his career.
"It was an incredible feeling," Bell said. "I mean, I just feels great, but to do it on senior night just feels that much better."
It didn't feel as good as it could have, though.
"It would have been much better memory if we pulled it out today," Bell said, "but unfortunately we didn't execute well enough to do that."
The interception was the first thrown by Kessler in four career games (three starts) against the Buffs.
"I was reading the quarterback," Bell said. "I knew I had a chance and then I just was able to make the play and add a decent return afterward."
During a 42-10 loss to Stanford a week ago, the Buffs had a rough day on third downs.
Stanford's first-team offense was 10-for-13 on third downs, while the CU offense went 2-for-11.
On Friday, the CU defense stopped USC on its first five third downs, and the Trojans finished 5-for-13. CU's offense was also 5-for-13.
CU held the Trojans to 333 yards in total offense. That's USC's lowest total against the Buffs since gaining 230 yards in the 1963 meeting. Chidobe Awuzie led the Buffs with 11 tackles. Derek McCartney and Jimmie Gilbert both recorded their fifth sacks of the season. CU's captains vs. USC: Christian Powell, Stephane Nembot, Nelson Spruce and Jordan Murphy. ... Attendance was 37,905. For the season, CU averaged 39,389 fans per home game. That's the Buffs' highest average since 2012.
Contact staff writer Brian Howell at email@example.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.